BeachBot is the creation of Edwin Bos and his partner Martijn Lukaart, founders of TechTics, who are now preparing for a second try. It was invented after Bos realized that his favorite beach, Scheveningen beach in the Netherlands, was littered with thousands of cigarette butts. It’s not that this was an isolated incident: as the video below explains, more than 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are found in the environment each year.
Cigarette butts may be small and partly made of paper, but it takes 14 years to disintegrate, during which time they release toxins into the water, poisoning various forms of aquatic life, from fish to turtles. They are described as “very toxic” and should not be thrown or buried in the sand of the beach without hesitation. They should be disposed of properly, in the trash, instead.
But as beachgoers seem averse to cleaning up after themselves, Bos took matters into their own hands and created BeachBot. It is a small electric vehicle running on giant tires and equipped with Artificial Intelligence, still in the early stages of learning, “trained” to identify or find cigarette butts, pick them up from the sand, and throw them in. an integrated trash can.
BeachBot shows promise, but still has a long way to go to reach its full potential. He is currently studying photos of cigarette butts using Microsoft Trove and learning more as he goes. In the first demo, which took place last year, he picked up 10 cigarette butts in 30 minutes. Considering it only has an hour of battery life on a full charge, it’s not exactly a home writing achievement for mom, but it’s better than none at all.
And that represents the incredibly hard work of a whole team of people, Bos told Microsoft. He’s still hoping humans will one day pick up their own trash before they leave the beach, but until they do, BeachBot will have to. “The bot does all the work on the ground. He goes to the beach, and he’s the cleaning hero ”, he says.
Soon BeachBot will get two bot assistants, who will move forward and map the beach, so that he will only have to focus on collecting the items and disposing of them. The three will work as a team and thus be more efficient.