When you’re taking a lovely afternoon stroll along a beautiful river on a lazy Sunday afternoon (perhaps on your way home from the pub), you probably don’t expect to see a robotic rubbish collector coming towards you.
Well, that’s what those taking a walk alongside the Chicago River are experiencing, but it’s not an eyesore, it’s a welcome addition to the river’s wildlife.
The robot rubbish-collecting robot has been developed by Urban Rivers, which created the ‘bot in response to people throwing rubbish into the water.
The company developed the robot after it raised $30k to build a garden alongside the Chicago River, but soon came to realise people were using the waterway as a rubbish tip.
It tried to collect the waste by hand, but there was too much and the water was too inaccessible. So the company developed a robot that people can control from smartphones and tablets, gamifying the concept of rubbish collection.
The ‘bot has been created from a tractor loader on the front and it’s controlled by Wi-Fi. Users are encouraged to jump on and collect rubbish, taking it to collection points, where members of the Urban Rivers team pick it up. Anyone who gets the rubbish to the points safely is rewarded and will appear in a league table.
The company will offer incentives for people to collect more rubbish, as well as giving them the motivation to knock the table leaders off the top of the league.
After seeing some success, Urban Rivers is now appealing for $5000 in crowdfunding to improve on a prototype of the robot.
“We will build a home base trash station, install a high-power Wi-fi station, and modify the design to withstand all seasons,” the company said on its Kickstarter page. “All additional funds will go towards further prototyping and experimentation.”