Robot Missions Continues to Clean Up Ottawa Beaches

Robot Missions has a simple goal of helping the planet using robots.

Erin ‘RobotGrrl’ Kennedy and her team of engineers and roboticists at Robot Missions have a vision to help communities to be more sustainable while spreading the education of science, technology, engineering and math. The group uses low-cost robots as a tool to help communities improve their environments on a small scale, hoping to create large scale change over time. After a successful mission in 2016 to use their Bowie Robots to clean up the Toronto Islands, the group is back with another crowdfunding / awareness campaign for their robots to help clean up Westboro Beach and Mooney’s Bay Beach in Ottawa.

The project requires robo-wranglers to control three robots in testing zones bordered by geofences. The wranglers will use the Bowie controllers developed by the Robot Missions team. The robot structures are completely 3D printed and the wheels driven by four motors. The simple controls let the robot move forward and backward and pick up garbage on the beaches. The controller consists of six buttons, a joystick, and OLED screen, three position switch and a speaker, all powered by a 5 Volt battery pack. The bot’s scoop design allows for a wide tolerance as the debris can be picked up in a scoop of sand and then deposited into the robot’s basket. I’m assuming that the sand sifts itself out of the robot’s frame as the bot travels to its next targeted chunk of beach garbage. Robots can also be outfitted with cameras and environmental sensors.

So far Robot Missions have held twenty field tests with the current Bowie robot platform in Toronto and Ottawa, with four different robots built and more than 250 participants. The Trials page on their website discusses the 2018 missions. It’s great to see a team of engineers working on this local small scale problem while simultaneously working to create an open source tool that the entire world can use. The campaign page and the Robot Missions website are both full of partnerships and awards won by the group, and a visit with Prime Minister Trudeau. Since learning about the group my favorite news source has been their twitter page, updated often with mission reports, lessons learned and future goals. This campaign ends on June 11, 2018 and the 2018 cleanup missions are scheduled for July and August, 2018.