To help clean Chicago’s river, a charity created a remote-controlled trash-collecting robot that players online can access and direct.
Urban Rivers is a Chicago-based charity focused on cleaning up the city’s rivers and re-wilding bankside habitats. One of their most visible pieces of work is a floating habitat installed in the middle of the river that runs through the city. An immediate problem that arose after installation was the accumulation of trash. At first, the company sent someone out on a kayak every other day to clean the habitat. Yet in less than a day, huge amounts of garbage would again be choking the space. The company’s solution was to create a Trash Task Force. The outcome of the Task Force’s work is the TrashBot, a remote-controlled garbage-collecting robot. The TrashBot allows gamers all over the world to do their bit in cleaning up Chicago’s river.
Anyone interested in playing the cleaning game can sign up via the Urban River website. The environmentally friendly project has recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Future development of the bot will likely focus on wildlife monitoring. Similarly, the end goal of the game will be that no one wants to play because there is no more garbage for collection.
From crowdsourced ocean data gathered by the fins of surfers’ boards to a solar-powered autonomous drone that gathers waste from harbor waters, the health of the world’s waterways is being improved in a number of ways. The surfboard fins use sensors to monitor sea salinity, acidity levels and wave motion. Those are all important coastal ecosystem factors that could be affected by climate change. The water drones are intelligent and use on-board cameras and sensors to learn about their environment and avoid other craft as they collect garbage from rivers, canals and harbors. How else could other multi-use devices help improve local environments? Could online gaming incentivise the participation of communities in large scale clean-up operations?