Do you live near a river? Is it clogged with trash? If you’re like most people, you’ve probably answered yes to both questions. Pollution in our waterways is a serious problem, and plenty of people have spent plenty of money trying to solve it. But perhaps a low-cost solution is the best one, and now such a solution is almost here.
A year ago, a team of scientists and engineers at the Chicago startup AltruBots—formerly Urban Rivers—revealed a project to build a cheap robot to clean up trash in the Chicago River. Unlike other high-tech solutions that take too much time and money, AltruBots’ solution is simple: they created a cheap robot that could be remotely controlled by anyone, anywhere, from the internet.
After a year of hard work, their prototype is now available for anyone in the world to test out. Right now, you can and take their river cleaning robot for a test drive.
A few caveats: the program is still in the testing phase, so not all the functionality is there. More importantly, the robot is not actually picking up trash in the river just yet. Instead, it’s swimming around a test pool filled with rubber ducks. That doesn’t change how fun driving around is, of course.
Over the next few months, expect the AltruBots team to iron out any bugs or complications in the robot’s design, and then bring the prototype to the Chicago River.