A plant has taken the botanical world’s first selfie at ZSL London Zoo.
The maidenhair fern, named Pete, was able to take a picture of itself after ZSL scientists installed microbial fuel cells to harness the energy of the plant. Pete is currently taking a photo every 20 seconds.
The ZSL team will continue to refine the technology before setting up a second trial in the wild. The ultimate aim is to be able to use plants to power camera traps and sensors in the wild.
ZSL’s Conservation Technology Specialist Al Davies explained:
“Seeing Pete’s first selfie was an incredible moment for the ZSL team, who have spent months monitoring and supporting his growth at ZSL London Zoo’s Rainforest Life exhibit.
“Plants naturally deposit biomatter as they grow, which in turn feeds the natural bacteria present in the soil, creating energy that can be harnessed by fuel cells and used to power a wide range of vital conservation tools remotely, including sensors, monitoring platforms and camera traps.
“Most power sources have limits – batteries must be replaced while solar panels rely on a source of sunlight – but plants can survive in the shade, naturally moving into position to maximise the potential of absorbing sunlight – meaning the potential for plant-powered energy is pretty much limitless.”
The ground-breaking solution, enabled by ultra low-powered technology created by US AI company Xnor.ai, works around the clock on any device while consuming such low energy it can be powered by a small plant.
As a result, it has the potential to monitor inhospitable and remote rainforest locations to record key data such as temperature, humidity and plant growth.
For more information on ZSL London Zoo click here.