Urban Rivers Collects Trash in Chicago River Using Trashbot

Urban Rivers, a Chicago-based, environmental nonprofit, has started testing its trash collecting machine – Trashbot – in the Chicago River.  The remote-controlled TrashBot looks like a tiny barge, just 2.5 feet long and wide (~0.75 meters). It uses a mesh scoop attached to the front to herd trash to designated points to be sorted for recyclables and proper disposal. It has a GPS tracking device, cameras, and a tether to prevent it from accidentally floating away or getting vandalized.

Urban Rivers aims to have Trashbot operating 24 hours a day and be linked to a website that will allow anyone to access and operate it remotely through a smartphone or computer. Users will be able to see the river through TrashBot’s water-level view as it moves the trash from the waterway.

“We’re hoping people play it like a video game and clean up trash,” said Nick Wesley, co-founder of Urban Rivers. “Everyone has latched on and we think this is a way everyone can engage the river.”

Urban Rivers developed the robot with money from a $5,000 Kickstarter campaign and a $10,000 grant from the Ozinga Foundation. They hope to eventually deploy the TrashBot in other cities, also.

Urban Rivers states: Our mission is to transform city rivers into urban wildlife sanctuaries. Their flagship project, ‘Wild Mile Chicago’ will be a mile-long floating park consisting of floating gardens, forests with public walkways,and kayak docks. The Wild Mile is intended to function as a public park, open-air museum, botanical garden, kayaker destination, classroom for the community, and habitat for native wildlife.