Most of the time, futuristic projections don’t come anywhere close to reality. Written in 1948, George Orwell’s fictional novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, is probably one of the most obvious inaccurate predictions (at least some might argue) of a dystopian society subject to mind control and ruled by a dictatorship. Great literature? Yes. But accurate? Not so much. Also, not terribly funny.
But in the realm of funny (or at least less ominous) and a bit more visionary comes this little tidbit reminiscent of the 1960s hit cartoon, The Jetsons. Anyone familiar with this prime-time animated Hanna-Barbera sitcom will remember Rosie, a humanoid robotic maid and housekeeper. Charged with keeping the Jetson household neat and tidy, the fictional Rosie has essentially met her modern day match: Dr. R.E. (“robotic environmentalist”) Cycler.
Designed by Florida Robotics (the same folks who bring you those mobile robots you see at trade shows and at shopping malls), Dr. R.E. Cycler is more than an entertainer. He’s an educator AND a machine with a true purpose: to explain the ins and outs of recycling. Morgan Clendanial of Fast Company writes:
The good doctor was first built in May 2011, in response to a request from Waste Management for “something new and different,” says Fay Martin, the owner of Florida Robotics. New and different they certainly got. Nowadays, the solar-powered robot is deployed to get schoolchildren excited about recycling. The robot crushes [cans] to an inch thick and stores them in its belly, where they are later taken away for recycling.
The idea is to make recycling fun and more transparent for young people, to instill in them an ethic of recycling later in life. Florida Robotics is up for a Refresh Project grant [sponsored by Pepsi] to build a better robot that will crush plastic bottles as well.