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There's too much trash in the Chicago River. We are building a robot, controlled by you to clean it up!
There's too much trash in the Chicago River. We are building a robot, controlled by you to clean it up!
189 backers pledged $5,496 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$5,496

189

Control a trash cleaning robot from home!

Our team needed a way to clean up trash on our floating gardens, so we built this trash robot to drive around and harvest the trash from the river. It was so fun we wanted to expand it into a game.

  • Our Trash Robot is located in the Chicago River
  • Anyone can drive the robot via a website
  • Real trash will be removed from the river
Trashbot Game!
Trashbot Game!

In 2017 our team installed the largest floating garden in Chicago. We learned a lot, had some great success but found an issue which kept plaguing our gardens...trash.

The Floating Garden
The Floating Garden

First, we tried cleaning it up by hand. Every other day someone would kayak out to remove this garbage. What did we find out? That was not enough. Trash appeared at random times in large quantities. Sometimes we would remove all the trash and two hours there was more.

So we created a trash task force and went to the drawing board and this project could've never gotten to the sophistication it is at today without the hard work of the Robot Team. Our team then prototyped a Remote Control boat which was capable of herding trash to a safe location where it could then be removed. This proved not only effective... but super entertaining.

We realized it would not be impossible to make this an interactive experience. We could link this up to our website and let anyone, anywhere, help clean up the trash in the Chicago River.


What we have done so far

So far this project has been financed out of our own pockets, but now we need to improve on what we learned. We need $5,000 to finance v.2. We will build a home base trash station, install a high-power Wifi station and modify the design to withstand all seasons. All additional funds will go towards further prototyping and experimentation. If we raise over $10,000 we will have the ability to have more than one robot in the river, along with greater flexibility with the accessories we attach to the bot.

Once we are able to prototype this we can assess how we can expand this idea to other rivers. All our designs and learnings will be Open Source. We are actively seeking for people to change, modify and enhance our project. Our rivers and waterways are in bad shape, we need all the help we can get to create more livable, wildlife-focused habitat.

Risks and challenges

In exchange for your trust and generous investment into this project, we feel we owe it to you to be as transparent as possible. In order to do this, below we have compiled a detailed list of the things we see at the moment as being our biggest risks and challenges with the project.

A huge risk is that we will not be able to deliver what we promise. So far our experiments have yielded a workable prototype, with a few modifications we believe we can take this online. However, there is always a risk v.2 has more issues than expected.

There is also a risk of vandalism once installed. Due to the nature of the device, it will have GPS tracking which can mitigate this risk. There are also cameras in the area tracking wildlife, this could discourage would-be vandals. There will also be a tether to prevent the device from running away. However, if someone is bold enough and determined enough who knows whats possible.

Software security is also a risk. We take this very seriously and will utilize outside auditors to verify that our implementation is secure. There is a minimum amount of damage a malicious actor could perform. Mostly we worry they could intentionally and repeatedly crash the device. As stated above there will be a safety tether as well as a virtual GPS "cage" to limit the usable area to that located directly in front of our installation.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Beta access to our platform

    You will be one of the first to receive access to the trash robot control station. You will be able to pick up trash, and find errors along the way :)

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    101 backers
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  2. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    Alpha Access

    Be in the first group to try this trash bot in the wild. Pledge in this tier and you will be notified as soon as a test version is online. Your feedback will shape the experience we create!

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    Reward no longer available 30 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Wear your trashbot pride

    You will receive a limited edition Urban Rivers Trash bot t-shirt to show your pride!

    Includes:
    • T shirt
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    23 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Powerup!

    Your name will be engraved on the base of the trash robot for all to see! Think, this robot is the Dale Ernheart Jr, you can be the Goodyear.

    You also will be the first group to test the robot live!

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    Limited 5 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Naming Rights

    Trash robot is a silly name right? You could do better I bet. Now is your chance to show the world your awesome naming talent. Name will be plastered on the side of the bot as well as on the website.

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Funding period

- (15 days)