TE+ND (Terrestrial Exploration + Nurture Designed) Rovers are an interactive art project that explore migratory ecology in an era of climate change. The rovers are robotic fostering environments that care for their own garden of native plants by interacting with participants and actively seeking out light and water. Each rover is two feet wide by three feet tall and has a hydroponic growing station on top of a mechanically walking base. The hydroponic growing station is made of ceramic material and has been designed to retain the right amount of moisture for root survival. The goal of the project is to illustrate the plight of California’s native habitats, to disperse native plants in a new way, to encourage the general public to participate in conservation and to think about what is ‘native.’
The rovers encourage the audience, (called participants for this project), to assist the rovers by providing light, watering plants and helping the rovers to acquire the resources they need to keep their garden healthy. In an urban setting, rovers will find water in sprinkler systems, drip irrigation, rain, fog, and from participants. In helping the rovers, participants learn about cultivating native California habitat and stretch the limits of human-robotic empathy and engagement.
TE+ND Rovers, designed after space exploration vehicles, are intended to investigate a range of environments, from cityscapes to less urban locales. Primary locations for the first stage of deployment include Golden Gate Park, Mt. Diablo State Park, The Conservatory of Flowers and The Exploratorium.
The design team consists of artist Marnia Johnston, project creator and materials specialist and Corey McGuire, hardware consultant and Linux development. Both are volunteers and have worked together creating interactive robots for SWARM .