The Chicago River is filled with pollution and trash that make the body of water unsafe for swimmers. Cleaning up all this garbage is a difficult task, which is why one startup turned to the internet for help.
Chicago startup Urban Rivers has been focused on cleaning up the river for a while. Previously, it built a floating garden to clean the water and make the river more pleasant to look at. But the organizers ran into a problem with their floating garden: almost daily, it would get swamped with pieces of trash. No matter how often someone cleaned it up, more trash would quickly appear.
And so, the group developed a prototype floating robot that cleaned up trash from the river. They also realized the whole thing would work best as a game for people to play on the internet. With an updated design and a powerful Wi-Fi transmitter, the designers turned a cleanup chore into a fun, interactive experience.
Urban Rivers launched a Kickstarter, which has since been fully funded. Their plan is to allow anyone to control the river robot from their web browsers from anywhere in the world. That way, anyone can take control of the robot—with some basic limitations in place to stop people from hijacking the robot or driving it into dangerous waters, of course—and help make the Chicago River a little cleaner.
Hopefully we’ll start seeing the trash robot sailing around the Chicago River (and our computer screens) sometime soon.