Electric, remote-controlled robot to begin removing litter from Belle Isle Beach in pilot program

What’s happening: Efforts to remove litter from Belle Isle will get a boost from technology this Earth Day, which takes place this year on Monday, April 22. That’s when officials will celebrate the launch of BeBot, a remote-controlled and fully electric beach-cleaning robot set to begin its patrol of Belle Isle Beach.
The BeBot, a cutting-edge litter removal robot, to be deployed on Belle Isle and the Detroit River, offers rapid, electric cleaning and data collection to combat plastic pollution. (Photo: City of Detroit)
What it is: BeBot is touted as a cutting-edge litter removal robot that can cover 32,000 sq. ft. per hour. Fully electric and operated remotely, BeBot will comb Belle Isle Beach and remove litter ranging in size from fragmented plastic particles to cigarette butts, food wrappers, and bottles. BeBot will complement current clean-up initiatives led by the Belle Isle Conservancy and the Keep Belle Isle Beautiful campaign.

See BeBot in action: The Belle Isle Conservancy has several public clean-up events scheduled through September. The public’s first opportunity to work alongside BeBot and help remove litter from Belle Isle Beach is planned for Saturday, June 8, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Visit the Belle Isle Conservancy online to learn more about BeBot and future opportunities to help remove litter from Belle Isle Beach.

How it’s happening: A public-private partnership between the City of Detroit, the Belle Isle Conservancy, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, CGLR Foundation, The Clorox Company, and Meijer helped bring BeBot to Belle Isle Beach. The initiative is part of the bi-national Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup, a collaborative effort between the CGLR Foundation in the U.S. and Pollution Probe in Canada.

Why it’s important: “Since 2017, the Belle Isle Conservancy has educated thousands on the dangers of single-use plastic, removed upwards of 40,000 pounds of littered plastic pollution from Belle Isle and its waterways, and collaborated with local artists and designers to reuse waste collected at our cleanups to create and exhibit visual narratives around sustainability,” says Genevieve Rattray, director of Sustainability and Advocacy for the Belle Isle Conservancy.

“We are excited to work in partnership with the City of Detroit, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the CGLR Foundation to foster innovation and innovative technologies as we continue to protect and preserve our natural resources and make critical movement towards adopting the principles, practices and policies of a circular economy.”

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.