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Rowing robot powers itself by gulping dirty water

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
November 24, 2015
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One day, you might see robots that not only survive in hazardous environments, but thrive in them. University of Bristol researchers have built Row-bot, a swimming robot that powers itself by feeding on dirty water. Its paddle both propels it forward and helps its microbial fuel cell gulp down the nutrients it needs to generate electricity. This robot might never need refueling so long as it's wading through unpleasant seas, whether they're full of algae or oil.

As you might have guessed, this would make an ideal pollution-fighting machine. At the least, a production-grade Row-bot could monitor water conditions for as long as necessary; at best, it could clean up messes with a minimum of intervention. It wouldn't be a complete solution, but it would let humans focus on the trickier aspects of recovering from environmental disasters.

[Image credit: Hemma Philamore, University of Bristol/BRL]

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