Mr. Trash Wheel Is a Googly-Eyed River Picker-Upper

Although entrepreneur Boyan Slat and his team at the Ocean Cleanup Project are deploying some seriously futuristic-looking trash interceptors to help clean up rivers across the world, there’s one little fella from another company who’s already been on the job since 2014: Mr. Trash Wheel! And for those who haven’t heard of him, the little trash interceptor just wants everyone to have a wheely good time.

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CNET recently reported Mr. Trash Wheel’s latest progress on its mission to clean Baltimore’s Jones Falls river. Mr. Trash Wheel’s inventor, John Kellett, told the tech-news outlet that the little rubbish gobbler has now removed more than 1,600 tons of trash over its lifetime, which works out to approximately 3.2 million pounds.

The charismatic, anthropomorphic cleaning vessel picks up trash from the river using its turning waterwheel for power. The energy generated from the waterwheel, in turn, powers pulleys, a conveyor belt, and an array of rakes that all work together to pick up trash. Which Mr. Trash Wheel subsequently flings into a dumpster onboard.

Mr. Trash Wheel has been so successful at his mission that he’s spawned some relatives. Professor Trash Wheel, for example, is now slurping up waste in another part of Maryland’s waterfront. So too are Gwynda the Good Wheel of the West, and Captain Trash Wheel. And they all have very distinctive personalities.

Indeed, it seems Kellett and his collaborators want to highlight the Trash Wheel family’s humanlike characteristics as much as possible. Project participants have gone out of their way to make the Trash Wheels so endlessly adorable in the hopes people are inspired to share pictures and videos of them on social media. In fact, each of the Trash Wheels tweets in the first-person from its own account. And, yes, things do get—on frequent occasion—quite googly.

Mr. Trash Wheel, the mostly autonomous trash interceptor, cleaning up trash from a river in Baltimore.

Matthew Bellemare

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