MIT Develops Oil-Cleaning Robot Army

It looks like a new oil-eating microbe has been helping to clean up the Deepwater Horizon mess, but if it's not around next time there's a spill, maybe we can use Seaswarm, a robot army developed by MIT's Sensable City Lab.

Seaswarm is a "fleet of autonomous and self-powered robots" that communicate with each other via GPS and WiFi to collectively clean surface oil from a spill. Each Seaswarm robot looks sort of like a floating laser printer and pulls around a conveyor belt outfitted with a special reusable oil-absorbing nanomaterial.


Sounds impressive, right? It is. The Senseable City Lab estimates that a team of 5,000 of these robots could clean a spill of Deepwater proportions in a month. The concept has been "tested" in the Charles River. No word if it's going commercial yet.