“Silent Running gardeners are here,” thought Andrew Porter, the moment he saw a picture of the MIT robot that will water a tomato plant when the plant makes a request.
(If you barely remember Silent Running’s Huey, Dewey and Louie, the BBC’s Mark Kermode offers this refresher course.)
Even more precious than the gardener is the next robot described in the same New York Times article:
A moment later he returned with something cute and bouncy balanced on the palm of his hand. It was basically a little cube attached to a cross, outfitted with a series of small plastic propellers, some lights and wires, four orange plastic pontoons that could easily have been scavenged from a bath toy, and a rudder that looked like a popsicle stick. So this was a model of the robotic helicopter? “No, this is it,” Dr. Roy said. “This is the robot itself.” And it was just one of several working prototypes, he added, that the lab and collaborators from around the world had built from off-the-shelf parts.