March of the inflatable robotic plants: thanks to Metro Mayor grant

A unique garden of robots which is the latest brainchild of Bristol-based “Air Giants” is about to set off on tour around the U.K. 

It’s been made possible thanks to a cash injection from the West of England Combined Authority led by Metro Mayor Dan Norris who will get a sneak peek of the exhibit as the engineers unfurl the robo-plants to their full height for the first time.

Up until now the nine interactive robotic plants made from fabric and pumped full of air have been developed in Air Giants workshop but now they will test-drive them in their full glory at the Bottle Yard studios allowing the techno-plants to tower up to five meters high. 

The Metro Mayor will take a walk round the garden and see how the gentle giant plants respond to him moving and talking.

The plants use special biomimetic technology to interact with people and each other. They also create sounds and change colours.

As they meet the wiggling, jiggling creatures, Air Giants directors Richard Sewell, Robert Nixdorff and Emma Powell will explain how Airgiants is partnering with Bristol Robotics Lab to carry out brand-new research. 

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “It’s not everyday that you get to say hello to a five-metre-high robotic plant. But it’s projects like these that just go to show how innovative and rich with creative talent the West of England really is. I’m proud that a grant from the Combined Authority I lead is helping the region’s roboticists, puppeteers and other creative people get back on their feet after the pandemic and face the future with confidence and boldness. Creativity and innovation runs through our region’s veins and I’m proud to back the talented local people working in our truly world-leading creative industries”.

Commenting on the visit, Air Giants director Emma Powell said: “This programme from the Combined Authority has given us time to reflect and improve our business processes. Meeting and working with other innovative creatives to discuss the challenges of being a creative business post-pandemic has enabled us to move forward our projects, including our Unfurl installation, with confidence”.

The garden will be visiting festivals in London, Leicestershire, Norwich and the Malvern Hills throughout the summer.

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