Trashbot collects trash from Chicago River, and you can drive it

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Trash has always been a problem on Chicago's waterways, so this summer you may spot a brand new invention collecting garbage on the North Branch of the Chicago River. And you'll be able to control it, too.

There's beauty and nature along the Chicago River, but there's also a lot of waste.

"When you see a piece of Styrofoam float past you, it doesn't make it a place you want to swim in or enjoy," said Nick Wesley, Trashbot creator.

Wesley's team had an innovative idea to improve the massive problem: a Trashbot.

"We could probably fill Soldier Filed with what's going on with garbage on the Chicago River system," said Margaret Frisbie, Friends of the Chicago River.

Friends of the Chicago River recently collected 80 tons of trash and invasive plants.

"We are creating twice as much garbage every single day as individuals and that's ending up in our waterways," Frisbie said.

Kayak Chicago has recently held cleanup events as well.

"We are trying to beautify the space and make it a place we can all recreate and enjoy," said Dave Olson, Kayak Chicago.

While Trashbot is still in its first prototype phase, eventually it will collect trash by scooping it out of the water while under remote control. And that means you can, eventually, be part of its efforts.

"Virtual volunteering, more or less," Wesley explained.

Anyone on the web could log on to and access Trashbot's camera, essentially seeing right through its eyes. Everyone gets two minutes to control the robot.

"If anyone can control this, it unifies people toward one cause, which I think is real interesting," Wesley said. "You can take five minutes on your lunchbreak and volunteer, and actually know you contributed something."

"What I hope people do with this is take this idea and use it in other areas and make it better," he added.

Trashbot is still under development and will launch to the public in the summer.
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