Robot Missions Municipal Trials
Helping our planet with environmental robots! Hands-on technology & engineering education to tackle the pollution challenge
Reduce pollution, operate a robot, and be part of the future with Robot Missions Municipal Trials!
Robot Missions is a grassroots group that empowers communities to apply low-cost robots for environmental challenges, such as shoreline cleanup.
The Municipal Trials will show how we can reduce pollution on our beaches and parks, while educating the public in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
Meet Bowie, the friendly Robot Missions robot!
Three robots operating 2-4 hours daily throughout the summer will collect trash, log data, and train imagery.
Check out the rewards below, which will let YOU become a VIP robot operator!
The global pollution challenge is visible in our local parks.
Robot Missions’ focus for shoreline cleanup is specifically non-natural debris within the 3-25mm range. This includes cigarette butts, fragments of plastic, nurdles, and single-use cutlery.
Robot Missions has received support from organizations such as IBM, the City of Ottawa, Ontario Centres of Excellence, among others, to help make this happen.
We were honoured to demonstrate our technology to the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. Watch the experience in 360 VR here.
We are fortunate to receive the support of MadeMill, the makerspace at Innovation Centre Bayview Yards, where we will be developing enhanced functionality to the robot.
Councillor Jeff Leiper of Kitchissippi Ward has said the following about Robot Missions:
With our low-cost robot, Robot Missions has embarked on 20 Field Tests in Toronto and Ottawa. Joined by over 250 participants who took part! Plus, there have been 4 replications of our robot.
Robot Missions has engaged with groups such as Girl Guides, SHAD, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum to deliver workshops.
The highly interactive nature of the workshops and Field Tests engages participants to learn more about engineering, technology, and the environment.
The Municipal Trials builds on our previous Field Test experience. We will engage with the community in public testing, leading up to a final demonstration at the end of summer.
• What's involved? Robo-Wrangler community volunteers deploy 3 robots in their zone for testing each morning, reporting back on any observations.
• How will it work? Robots navigate in their zone set by a geofence, and collect debris, capture imagery, record environmental sensor data.
• Where will this be held? Westboro Beach in Ottawa, ON, and Mooney's Bay Beach in Ottawa, ON.
• Why should we do this? In other locations in the world, pollution is much more prevalent. Through the trials, Robot Missions aims to develop a solution that can be implemented around the world. At the same time, increasing awareness of STEM through this hands-on initiative.
The City of Ottawa has given authorization to Robot Missions to operate our robots in the designated zones on Westboro and Mooney's Bay Beach between 8-12pm, Mon-Sat (inclusive), unless there is an event happening. The National Capital Commission has given Robot Missions the go ahead as well. We have the signed documentation to support this.
Curious about the impacts the Municipal Trial will address? Read the details on our Municipal Trials page.
Who is behind Robot Missions?
Erin is Robot Missions' technical founder and CEO. She has built the robot from the ground up, including the 3D CAD design, electronics circuit board, firmware, and more. She was recognised in the Lieutenant Governor’s Visionaries Prize, hear her address here, and her interview in the Journal of Open Source Hardware here.
Check out the fun rewards we have in store for you as a backer!
Add your mark to the robot! We'll email you a photo of your glyph on the robot. After the Municipal Trials conclude at the end of summer, we'll then mail your glyph to you.
Join an indoors Field Test from your couch by controlling the robot via a livestream! We'll give you a VIP code for dedicated control for 30 minutes.
*Note: You will need to have a fast internet connection and modern computer
Robot Control ($49)
Be a VIP at the Field Test! Dedicated 30 minutes control of the robot to navigate and collect trash. You'll get a printable VIP Field Test ticket to bring with you, and a commemorative button.
Friend & Family ($119)
What's better than a day of robots and beaches?! Same as above, but you will receive 3 tickets, 3 buttons, and 3 minifigs. Add $30 for each additional member.
Want to combine this with a Controller? Check out the Friend & Family pack!
Two options: Early bird ($199) or Kickstarter edition ($229)
The excitement of operating the robot is in your hands with this controller! Bring this with you to Field Tests to operate a robot.
- The controller is easy to learn to use. It has 6 buttons, 1 joystick, an OLED display, speaker, and a 3 position mode switch.
- Firmware updates will be made available online (open source), and can be uploaded at the Field Tests by a member of the Robot Missions team. There's no limit to the number of updates.
- The controller will have a plug-in communication module at the Field Tests to control to the robot wirelessly.
- Powered by a 5V rechargeable battery pack through a micro usb cable (not included).
- Colours will be chosen determined on your backer survey response.
- Pre-assembled (unless you specify you want it as a kit).
- Yes, of course, you can HACK IT!
After the season concludes, it can be used with your own project (perhaps a little Bowie)!
Want to combine this with VIP tickets? Check out the Friend & Family pack!
Bring the power of STEM learning into your hands with dedicated control of a robot. This pack brings the best: One Controller combined with the Friend & Family VIP Field Test Tickets.
Join in our public Field Tests or Robo-Wrangler testing to take part. The best part is that you will be learning the ins and outs of the robot, and contributing to the testing!
At this level, you will sponsor 20 VIP Field Test tickets for members of the community. Your influence will be felt by participants who are excited about technology and passionate about the environment.
University of Ottawa Modules
100 engineering students from the University of Ottawa developed new modules with our robot platform for environmental restoration.
Their groups created modules such as a soil moisture probe + automatic waterer, seed dispensers, water sampler, and weed snippers.
In the Ottawa region? You can take part! Dive in to robotics hands-on by being a Robo-Wrangler for a week to deploy the robots. Check out the Robo-Wrangler page to apply.
Continuous usage of the robots will be a new experience, and we will be making upgrades during the summer.
Robot Missions and Bowie have come a long ways since its original version back in 2016...
Robot Missions’ vision is to democratize robotics and empower citizens to tackle environmental challenges. We want to see robots cleaning parks and beaches across the world.
The total project budget of the Municipal Trials is $60K. Robot Missions was accepted into the competitive Ontario Centres of Excellence IBM I3 Customer Demonstration Program with funding of $30K, which we need to match through our Kickstarter campaign and corporate sponsorship.
For this summer, Robot Missions is looking to grow the team by bringing on 4 paid contractors. One as a mission operations intern to organise our events, and three others in the realm of software development.
Selected Media & Awards
Robot Missions was recognised with the Make A Difference Award at the Ontario Makers and Mentors Innovation Conference 2017 — a special award given to whichever team can demonstrate how their idea, project or prototype can solve an environmental, social or economical issue.
Hear what others are saying about Robot Missions:
Canadian Space Agency - Twitter @csa_asc
"CSA engineers were lucky enough to meet with Erin Kennedy, the creator of a rover built to clean beaches at @OCEinnovation in Toronto. Isn’t that cool, @environmentca? #OCEDiscovery"
"An Ottawa woman has turned her love of robotics into a way to have a "direct positive effect on the environment" with her beach-cleaning robot named Bowie. " - Chloé Fedio and Giacomo Panico
"What is so interesting about this project is that it combines makers and environmentalists working on issues in their own communities. The robots can be easily replicated in FabLabs or other maker spaces since they will be set up as open source kits. It’s not only educational, but empowering." - Leslie Birch
"What’s next? Erin seems content to work toward her goal of the mostly-autonomous swarm, with improvements in electronics, chassis, and programming coming every few months, I wouldn’t put it past her."
Bonus: DANCE MODE
Since you've scrolled all the way to the bottom, please enjoy this bonus of Bowie in DANCE MODE
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Risks and challenges
Here are four key areas Robot Missions sees as large risks to the project.
• Theft of robot — Mitigation strategy: Robot Missions will develop a way for each robot to periodically "phone home", and enter a "security safety mode" based on sensor readings.
• Severe flooding — Mitigation strategy: Robot Missions could expand the robot operating zone to follow where the receding water meets the shoreline.
• Injury — Mitigation strategy: There will always be an intern or volunteer present when the robots are operating to reduce the chance of this happening.
• Technology failure — Mitigation strategy: As we have designed, developed, and manufactured the robot from scratch, Robot Missions has a deep understanding of the system architecture and where to look in the event of a failure.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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