Each week, we spotlight a cool innovation recommended by some of the industry's top tech writers. This week's pick is a river-cleaning robot.
A "waterborne version of the Roomba" vacuum cleaner is going to help clean up debris in the Chicago River this summer, said Luke Dormehl at Digital Trends. TrashBot is a remote-controlled raft the size of a kickboard that is able "to pick up trash in its immediate vicinity, and then ferry this to a collection point on the riverbank, where it can be later removed."
But the TrashBot is not completely autonomous. Because "teaching a computer to understand what constitutes trash isn't easy" — and could be problematic for wildlife — the river vessel will be piloted through the website of the company that created it, Urban Rivers. Anyone who logs on will be able to search the river for trash. Letting ordinary people take control, said one of the robot's creators, "makes for a really cool experience."