What Is This?

Illustration for article titled What Is This?

An escaped amusement park water ride boat? A crashed, insectoid UFO that's stuck struggling on its back, turtle-style? A conveniently all-powerful plot device in a Hollywood summer action movie? A Roomba grain harvester?

Illustration for article titled What Is This?

This 15-foot-wide, solar-panel-adorned disc is a floating water purifier, to be plopped into the canals in the Japanese city of Osaka, and into the moat around the city's centerpiece castle. Designed by NTT, these "floating UFOs" can filter about 2400 gallons of water in the 6 hours a day they'll be operational, all the while spewing the newly cleaned and oxygenated water out of a little spout in its back, presumably because these things have the potential to be kind of unsettling, and everything with a blowhole is automatically charming. It's true! Check!


At night they'll just sort of float along, creepily. They've got batteries for when the sun hides out, but only to power a rack of glowing LED lights. [Asahi via Pink Tentacle—Second image from Mainichi Daily]

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So who gets to clean the filter, and where does the gunk go?