The "Green Wall Robot" looks after plants in places that people find hard to reach: vertical green facades. Researchers at Fraunhofer IPA and the University of Stuttgart are currently working on a modular automated system for green facades. The aim is to do away with the need for time-consuming and expensive manual maintenance.
Whenever it comes to improving the urban climate through plants, people soon start talking about facade greening. Apart from filtering out air pollutants, this offers further advantages: it regulates the urban microclimate, lowers energy consumption for air conditioning, serves as a sanctuary for insects, constitutes a sink for waste heat in winter, retains rainwater, absorbs noise and opens up new, previously-unused areas for urban farming.
However, caring for and maintaining vertically-planted surfaces is a complex and expensive business that previously required scaffolding, lifting platforms or industrial climbers. That is why researchers at Fraunhofer IPA and the University of Stuttgart want to develop an affordable automated system, possibly consisting of modules and submodules, that would make it easier to care for green walls in the future.
Their concepts: an intelligent robot, which moves autonomously on rails and undertakes all planting, care and maintenance work. With the help of artificial intelligence, this Green Wall robot can look after these facades in an optimum way. For example, with the aid of image processing software, it can differentiate between various types of plants, remove individual submodules containing diseased or dead plants and replace them with new ones. The plants are watered via a pipe system that is integrated into the modules. Factories in urban environments can actively contribute to air pollution control by using their waste heat for green walls. An alternative to a rail-mounted robot is a cable robot, which can move across a facade regardless of the infrastructure.
Researchers are currently looking for interested companies that would like to adapt this idea to their own specific circumstances.
Fraunhofer IPA and Institute for Energy Efficiency in Production (EEP) of University of Stuttgart