Despite what the inventors of the world want you to believe, not everything in your home needs to be intelligent, automated, and motorized—except your garbage cans. The inventor of the SmartCan wants to ensure you’ll never again forget it’s trash day, because these cans automatically drive themselves to the curb for you. This is the innovation the world needs.
Invented by Andrew Murray and currently in development at the company he founded, Rezzi, the SmartCan is one of those rare home-focused robots that could, like robovacs, actually deliver some genuinely useful functionality—not just questionable uses like entertainment or companionship. Those of us tasked with dragging our garbage cans to the curb every week will immediately see the benefits of an automaton like this. Using a companion app, the SmartCan will follow a pre-programmed schedule and automatically drive itself to a curbside drop off point on garbage pickup days, and then autonomously return to wherever you keep them parked the rest of the week.
The SmartCans appear to rely on a pair of docking stations for navigation, which could be problematic for those who live in areas where the city simply won’t let them install one on a public curb, or where there’s the risk of them being damaged from high foot traffic, so hopefully its creator will offer an alternative way to help them find their way. Presumably, the cans do need to be regularly charged, which isn’t a huge inconvenience if the docks are able to provide that functionality the same way they do with robovacs. But there are other potential logistical roadblocks, including the likely need for a homeowner to remember to open the garage or a backyard gate to let the robocans out on trash day, and what happens when, after being emptied, one of these cans is simply tossed back on the sidewalk and left on its side—a popular past time of many trash collectors.
There’s also the question of pricing, which has yet to be revealed. Plastic garbage cans, which are prone to cracking, breaking, and ending up smelling very awful, are relatively cheap to replace. If the SmartCan ends up costing a few hundred bucks, you might find yourself caring for it more than you do your car, giving it regular baths and ensuring its path to the curb is always kept clear and tidy. It could create more work than it promises to alleviate.
Correction, 1:16 p.m. EST/EDT: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of the company that makes the SmartCan. We regret the error.