World’s first plant selfie

Posted: 21st June, 2019

A plant called Pete growing at ZSL London Zoo could revolutionise field conservation by powering a camera to take selfies as he grows. Scientists in ZSL’s Conservation Tech Unit partnered with Open Plant, Cambridge University and the Arribada Initiative to run a competition. The winning design, from Plant E, consists of fuel cells that use soil bacteria to generate electricity.

ZSL’s Conservation Technology Specialist Al Davies explained: “As plants grow, they naturally deposit biomatter into the soil they’re planted in, which bacteria in the soil feeds on – this creates energy that can be harnessed by fuel cells and used to power a wide range of conservation tools.

“Plugging in to plants unlocks the potential to deploy sensors, monitoring platforms, camera traps, or other electronics that require power and must operate for extended periods of time – all remotely and without interference.”

The Zoo is now calling on people to show their support for Pete - a maidenhair fern with delicate leaves and shiny stalks - by cheering him on as he grows in strength and prepares to snap his own selfie in the name of science.

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