A nonprofit is trying to crowdfund a floating, trash-cleaning robot that anyone can remotely control over the internet. The nonprofit Urban Rivers already has a prototype running in the Chicago River and describes it as “so fun, we wanted to expand it into a game.”
Now, if the Kickstarter gets funded, anyone will be able to remotely drive the robot through a website and harvest trash from the river, using basic WASD controls or arrow keys. Urban Rivers has named the experience “Trashbot Game,” and the robot actually collects trash in real time while players pilot it.
“We really hope that one day, this game is just so boring, because there’s no more trash left to clean,” says Nick Wesley, one of the co-founders of Urban Rivers in the Kickstarter video.
The idea for the trash-collecting robot came last year when the nonprofit installed a floating garden in Chicago (also funded through Kickstarter) and discovered that trash kept floating onto it. They found that it was difficult, if not impossible, to clear out the garbage by having staff kayak to the area and scoop out the trash.
“Trash appeared at random times in large quantities. Sometimes we would remove all the trash and two hours there was more,” Urban Rivers writes on the Kickstarter page. Finally, after brainstorming, they made a prototype of a remotely controlled boat that could move trash to a safe location for removal.
It’s a neat, environmentally friendly idea, and so far, Urban Rivers has raised $984 of the $5,000 goal with 14 days to go. The $5,000 Kickstarter goal will fund version two of the prototype and also include a high-power Wi-Fi station, a home base trash station, GPS tracking, and a tether on the boat to prevent theft.
Its estimated delivery date is April this year, although with Kickstarters, dates are often unreliable, and the product may never make it past the funding stage.