At first sight, the Cyberflora flower display may seem like any other pretty flower show. But, as visitors peer and gaze at the plants, they are greeted by a strange sight – flowers that move and glow in response to their human admirers. These robot flower ‘Cyberflora’ are the brainchild of robotics designer Cynthia Breazeal, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. Breazeal founded the Personal Robots Group at the Media Lab at MIT and concentrates on studying the way humans and robots relate to each other. Her most famous creation is Kismet, the social robot head that was programmed to behave in a similar manner to a human toddler. Breazeal has also developed a wide range of other robots, from small insect-like creations to interactive lamps, computers and expressive humanoids. The Cyberflora installation includes robot flowers that are designed to combine animal-like behaviour with flower-like characteristics. The plants contain sensors that detect the presence of visitors and respond in a certain way. For example, one species - dubbed Chromafant Blossom - sways gently and glows bright colours when a hand is placed over the petals. Another species, the Cobra Orchid, detects heat from human bodies and arches its long snake-like stem towards the direction of the person. The Cyberflora garden currently resides at the Personal Robots Group lab.

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