The creature you see here is a "nomadic plant." It's the creation of the Mexican artist Gilberto Esparza, who specializes in thought-provoking robots and mechanical sculptures (his "urban parasites" got some attention from the internet a few years ago). This nomadic plant is part machine and part living thing. It walks around slurping up water from contaminated rivers to keep itself powered and alive.
Here's how it works, according to We Make Money Not Art:
Vegetation and microorganisms live in symbiosis inside the body of the Nomadic Plants robot. Whenever its bacteria require nourishment, the self-sufficient robot will move towards a contaminated river and 'drink' water from it. Through a process of microbial fuel cell, the elements contained in the water are decomposed and turned into energy that can feed the brain circuits of the robot. The surplus is then used to create life, enabling plants to complete their own life cycle.
Here are a few shots of the nomadic plant in the wild:
It's a fascinating idea: robotic plants that roam the polluted landscape, scavenging for their own energy and cleaning as they go. Esparza's robot is more art project than practical fix for polluted rivers, but it does make you think about the possibilities for plantlife and ways we might tune them to thrive in a dirty environment.
Images from plantas nomadas