Floating Trashbot Turns River Cleanup Into An Online Game

Environmental startup Urban Rivers is building a river-cleaning trashbot that can be remotely controlled over the Internet by anyone, turning the cleaning process into an online game.

Having robots clean up the city river is one thing, but turning it into an open source game is pretty much next level. The floating trashbot of non-profit organization Urban Rivers will enable anyone to look through its eyes and control where it goes. Gamers have to let the bot pick up as much trash as possible within a certain amount of time and gain points doing so. A brilliant piece of gamification that enables people all over the world to make a very local impact by spending a couple of minutes playing the game.

The main goal Urban Rivers is to clean up urban waters and rehabilitate wildlife. The Chicago-based startup has more plans for the trashbot in the future, such as monitoring wildlife. According to its creators, the ultimate goal of the robot is to become boring at one point, because there is no trash in the river left.

Urban Rivers isn’t the first company to use gamification methods to clean up trash — Wecyclers rewarded people for recycling their trash, while the so-called Waste Bench invited urbanites to kick their trash into into a slot in the base.