Landfills are pretty wretched places with all the rotting trash spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It's no wonder humans have started building robots to do the dirty work in dumps around the world. The fact that these mechanical workers do it with lasers is just a bonus.
A team of Swedish researchers from the AASS Research Centre at Orebro University have perfected such a creature. They're calling him Gasbot, and he's practically a real-life WALL-E.
Armed with a remote gas sensor, a GPS module, and a pair of lasers, Gasbot can roam around landfills for days or even weeks spotting areas that are leaking environmentally harmful methane. It takes the data collected by its Tunable Laser Absorption Spectrometer and builds a three-dimensional map of the leaks for human workers to seek out and patch.
Gasbot isn't quite ready for the big show. It was recently tested in an underground corridor with a gas leak and a decommissioned landfill site, where researchers introduced an artificial source of methane. Based on the results of that pilot program, however, it looks like Gasbot's next stop will be an actual landfill that's burping poisonous fumes and destroying the Earth. And after that? Probably a delightful, family-friendly romp with a ladybot named EVE. [IEEE]
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