Dustbot: an automated street cleaner from Italy

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Dustbot mean auything to you? It is a robotics project, started in Tuscany, Italy a few years ago, with the experimental phase beginning as far back as 2009!

This ‘robot street sweeper’ moves thanks to a rechargeable battery-powered electric motor.  It can automatically separate rubbish and clean streets in urban spaces.

Dustbot is, therefore, both a transport and a cleaning machine. It is made up of two parts, one part takes care of sorting waste whilst the other part is in charge of cleaning the streets. The two ‘halves’ are connected to a centralized monitoring station which is focused on rubbish collection, and to a a support station which is responsabile for mving the vehicle. These two systems are autonomous.

Equipped with sensors that can perceive the surrounding space, an ultrasound system and TV cameras, the robot can move, identify obstacles, and avoid them, all in complete autonomy.

Dustbot has been tested by 18 Tuscan families and a similar number of local companies. In just two months, it managed to pick up some 600 kg of waste, not bad for a start!

You may be wondering as to how civilians can make use of this service? It’s really very simple, you justt have to call a special number, and the Dustbot will arrive unheeded at your doorstep. You must then put your waste into the correct compartment (paper, glass, plastic etc.) and the robot will return, again unassisted, to the waste disposal centre. Here it will unload the collected waste before going off to recharge its batteries.

This project was coordinated by the BioRobotics Institute of the Sant’Anna High School, Pisa and was funded by the European Union (through the European Commission). Spanish, Swedish, English and Swiss institutions have also participated in this project. Who can tell… maybe one day we will see robots like this in all major cities of the word.

The name Dustbot stands for ‘Networked and Cooperating Robots for Urban Hygiene’. If you want more information, please visit the official website.



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