In Baltimore, there’s a self-driving machine that’s pulling garbage from the river — and they call it Mr. Trash Wheel. That’s because, quite literally, it’s a water wheel being powered by the river’s current.
The wheel propels the platform forward, and then the collected trash is deposited to a rear dumpster via conveyer belt. On days when the current is too weak, Mr. Trash Wheel can be powered by solar panels attached to its canopy.
Since May of 2014, the wheel has collected over a million pounds of trash, including 8.9 million cigarette butts and half a million polystyrene containers. The removed trash is then incinerated, and the energy produced actually provides power for some homes in Baltimore.
The human maintenance on Mr. Trash Wheel appears minimal. In a video put together by Business Insider, it seems there’s usually no more than a single a person aboard the platform. The individual’s duties appear mostly confined to making sure the conveyor belt doesn’t get clogged.
The city of Baltimore seems to be happy with Mr. Trash Wheel’s work thus far. A second wheel — this one called Prof. Trash Wheel — debuted in December of 2016.
H/t reader kevin a.
* * *