Roomba-Like Robots Dropped by Helicopter Could Clean Up Oil Spills

TIDC2011/Video screen capture

Designer Hsu Sean's Bio-Cleaner looks an awful lot like the Roomba autonomous vacuum cleaner, and the two aren't so different. The Roomba is set on the floor to clean up dirt, the Bio-Cleaner is dropped out of a helicopter into the ocean in the wake of an oil spill.

TIDC2011/Video screen capture

Featured on Yanko Design, the yellow robot has three arms to propel itself. It has a built-in pump to separate out water, and a compartment with bacteria that degrade oil.

The cleverest part is an "acoustic wave device" that emits high-frequency sound waves designed to keep animals at bay, so they don't join the ranks of oil-soaked creatures that rarely survive.

Unfortunately, this is just a design concept, and there's no evidence that it's near becoming a reality. There are the unexplained features, such as a "biosensor" to track oil in the water, and an "H2O battery" that's "powered by the ocean" to keep the Bio-Cleaner moving. But those hardly seem like insurmountable challenges, especially if this idea could be taken up by professional scientists and engineers.

Tags: Oceans | Oil | Oil Spill

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