Animatronic Venus Flytrap
The Idaho Botanical Garden (IBG) has recently acquired a display of carnivorous plants. One breed in particular, the Venus flytrap, is a very unique plant that closes its leaves when its hairs are triggered by insects walking on it. Visitors to the garden love to touch this dynamic plant’s ‘head’, but when touched the leaves close with no food. With its limited number of movements in a lifespan, the delicate plant lacks nutrients each time it closes with no food and eventually dies. We were tasked with creating a larger scale (4:1) model of a Venus flytrap plant that the patrons of the IBG can interact. From specifications centering on safety of anyone interacting with the model and proportional size of the model, we designed a robotic device that will have one moving ‘head’ approximately sixteen inches in diameter and exhibit the same closing cycle the actual plants use to catch prey. Our design centers around a stepper motor that is connected to a hinged head mechanism via a flexible drive shaft. The mechanism will be mounted in a ‘planter’ to disguise the mechanical and electrical components that would detract from the lifelike model. The ‘head’ will be a metal skeleton over-molded with a green silicone skin to simulate the texture of the plant’s skin. Furthermore, the device will be activated by ‘trigger hairs’ similar to a living Venus flytrap in nature. This created model will educate and entertain the patrons of the IBG while preserving the less hardy plants.