Climbing plants and Vine plants use several methods to reach more sunlight without the need of to develop huge supportive trunks, so they climb thru rooks, other plants or likely almost any type of surface that they can get attached to.
To do it so they use several mechanism, from twining steems around other trees, modified roots like common Ivy plants or using thorns to create a gardener nightmare like raspberries and roses do.
But some of this plants develop a specialized steem known as tendril. As the tendril grows and moves around is able to recognize surfaces by motion-touch and get attached, or not, to them. Also, this tendril is able to get several biochemical information from the surroundings. Examples like the ability to recognize itself are a major key to avoid spin around itself, or with a member of the same specie.
This work from Center of Micro-BioRobotics of the Italian Institute of Technology in Pontedera (Pisa) guided by Barbara Mazzolai recreates a plant tendril-like robot that is able to climb as a garden pea, at least as a retarded one.
Without jokes,developed versions of this very first soft robot will be able to recreate several humans tasks. For example: Tomato cultives need lot of human work on tutoring the plant, a stick full of soft robots like this could perform this tasks on the near future. Be happy, soft robots are also going to free us from work.