Public: Litter
Controversial Trash Man   (+22, -6)  [vote for, against]
Robot that picks up trash.

Now, this idea sounds downright juvenile, theres nothing to it. But, there is something wondrously simple to the method, I think its worth an idea.

I don't live in the cleanest of towns, and I see trash sometimes. I've noticed that 90% of this trash is white, just white, a ghastly bright white that screams of industrialism and brave new world. bags, styrofoam, paper, diapers, whatever. Even if its not all white, most trash has some of this unnatural color to it. So, basically incorporate some photosensors to a robot, make it scout for this unnatural color, perform some tests to make sure its not something else, like rocks, or cabbage-white butterflyies, daisies, ipods, caterpillars, snow, signposts, white-lines on the road, and there we have it. The world's first ecobot. Like the roomba on steriods.

And, uh, put a CD player on it.
-- daseva, Apr 07 2005

pigeon litter patrol Instead of making a robot, just train birds to do it. Easy! [omegatron, Aug 04 2005]

very neat idea.

I just wouldn't call it "Eco", as it's often better for the environment to have trash spread across the surface where it can be broken down & returned to life than to have it preserved in landfills. Better for the earth, but not as pleasant for some inhabitants.
-- sophocles, Apr 07 2005

Anyone seen my iPod? I only put it down a second ago...
-- wagster, Apr 07 2005

I raise the white flag of surrender...GET THIS DAMN THING OFF OF ME!
-- 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Apr 07 2005

often wondered how birds discriminate crumbs of food from other bits and pieces almost immediately from half a mile away.
-- po, Apr 07 2005

Yes that is strange, pigeons will know to swoop on a bit of sandwich from miles around, but don't even bother with a cigarette butt.
-- zen_tom, Apr 07 2005

[sophocles], I'm not so sure about the idea that trash spread is good for the environment. Actually, it sounds like, nowadays, we don't have a clue what's good for it. But that whole burning millions of barrels of oil a day activity is a sure thing.

The damn thing would recycle like a maniac and feed off its own pickings for fuel.

[zen], hardness tests would work for rocks, and ipods ("damn trash man scratched my ipod", well, who's fault is that?)... if an object resists a certian amount of displacement the trash man would let it go. this alleviates the posts, white lines, etc. Thermometer would work for the snow, and some movement detection algorithms on the photoreceptor input would keep him from chasing butterflies. I am aware of the costliness of turning the robot into a microlab just to pick up trash, any better testing ideas?
-- daseva, Apr 07 2005

The purpose behind the idea is great - I'd love to see busy robots scurrying around the place in developed cities tidying things up.

If this sort of thing did become commonplace, imagine being able to walk down the street, littering at will, while robots cleaned up after you. I'm not sure, but people living in this kind of environment might slowly slip down into a kind of environmental complacency, simply because they wouldn't have to think about litter, or cleaning or anything. Sure the place would look great, but I can see people getting lazy pretty quickly. But that's me being negative.

The other social problem would be an immediate tightening up of immigration controls. I don't mean to be controversial, but currently the jobs that these robots would replace would be those traditionally filled by cheap immigrant labour. Currently the requirement for this kind of labour is so high, it is normally able to support those coming to more developed countries in search of economic opportunity - introduction of these robots would lessen the need (assuming they were cheap enough to produce) and thin the employment buffer that currently keeps the majority of a country's native inhabitants out of direct competition with those arriving from overseas. Now I'm not making a point on immigration or minimum-wage labour or anything here, just pointing out that robots would take many menial type jobs away from people who would otherwise benefit from them.

Finally, recycling collected trash or no (which IS a good idea)- giving a robot the ability to pick up white things is fine, but wouldn't make for a functioning autonomous object - it would for example have to be able to avoid traffic, pedestrians, other robots etc etc etc - all of which pose more immediate problems than deciding what things to try and pick up off the ground.

So, it is a nice idea, as far as it goes, it just doesn't seem to go very far.
-- zen_tom, Apr 07 2005

zen_tom: Well, we'll still need people to clean, lubricate, & service the robots, eh?
-- sophocles, Apr 07 2005

Yes, that's true - the division of labour thing is just something that occured to me after having gotten in a row with someone last night who was venemously anti immigration. I can't guess what effect the introduction of robots would have on status quo on a social level, but am sure there'd be some changes to what we're used to. I still don't think it's something we should shy away from though.
-- zen_tom, Apr 07 2005

If people knew that a certain area was being patrolled by these robots, they might think twice before dropping their ipods - the same goes for white flowers (just don't plant any) which wouldn't be too bad since I imagine this kind of thing being initially only cost effective in a city where there might be lots of trash.
-- zen_tom, Apr 07 2005

//any better testing ideas?// Some kind of 'grime-index' that checks how non-uniform/or fractally crumpled the surface texture/composition of the object is. Then it could briefly lift it into the air, look around questioningly and say
"Erm, guys...Do you mind if I trash this?"
Wait for a moment, and then pop it into it's Dusty Bin lidhead.
-- zen_tom, Apr 07 2005

Well, after reading "I, robot" (poor movie), I can't help but shiver every time I think of fully autonomous robots... perhaps a human supervisor could control the locale and directionality of the robot's coverage.
-- daseva, Apr 07 2005

The thing is, robots are coming faster than Jesus, and the market they are most functional in, right now, is vacuum cleaners. People have been hesitant with robots, for the most part, but not with ones that, well, clean up after our messy human mayhem. The Trash Man may serve as a segue to a more engaging robotics market, possibly deviod of the controversy that makes the market so weak. Technology to produce a streetworthy Trash Man would propel the industry, and the rest is history. Now, I'm not claiming this won't happen without the Trash Man, I'm just pondering if this road could be travelled.
-- daseva, Apr 07 2005

[+] - After [zen_tom] pointed out that it could look like Dusty Bin.
-- wagster, Apr 07 2005

[Romulox] Since I read the bakery through RSS, I cannot help but notice that this idea has had no fewer than four different names over a period of about 6 hours, including "Ecobot", "Whatever makes 'bakers click on these words", "Silly Trash Man" and "Controversial Trash Man". Please don't abuse your ability to edit your idea, just to get attention. It is not very neighborly.
-- krelnik, Apr 07 2005

The CTM could be limited only to the strips along interstates. These are very trashy places, and dangerous for humans to work because of the traffic. They are sharply demarcated by the road and some sort of wall or barrier to keep people off the interstae and prevent impromptu exits.

The CTM could move randomly, turning when it encountered a barrier. It would pick up anything loose that it encountered.

It would have big spikes on the top, to keep people from running it over just for fun.
-- bungston, Apr 08 2005

Yes, white trash is a problem in many areas. Having lived in several of the square-shaped states in the US, I have seen firsthand the devaluation of entire neighborhoods due to an abundance of white trash. White trash is usually found on front porches or by unemployment lines, which may be difficult for these robots to get to. Many trailer parks are completely filled with white trash and may require several robots in each.
-- AfroAssault, Apr 08 2005

heh. I was wondering how long it would take for someone to go that direction.
-- bristolz, Apr 08 2005

Isn't Jerry Springer the controversial white trash man?
However, such a robot would be a useful Ernst Stavro Blofeld's cat detector, thereby easing the workload on our security services.
-- AbsintheWithoutLeave, Apr 08 2005

I love the idea of a binman who gives you an off-the-cuff argument.
-- po, Apr 08 2005

Well, I'll admit to title abuse, and I'm currently involved in several programs to work through my derision.

[AA], amen.
-- daseva, Apr 08 2005

Very good for a first idea.

-- DesertFox, Apr 08 2005

//heh. I was wondering how long it would take for someone to go that direction.//
I was surprised the whole thread wasn't already there.
-- AfroAssault, Apr 08 2005

afro: well, that's because it's hard to cleverly touch obvious gimmies. You did a very fine job though.
-- sophocles, Apr 08 2005

// I've noticed that 90% of this trash is white// That is because the other 95% of it, being less conspicuous, is not noticeable.
-- Basepair, Apr 08 2005

I'm think robots are so cool, and it would be awesome if they walked around town like people, but building a robot to pick garbage would only promote the idea that littering is acceptable. Ideally, nobody would throw garbage on the ground at all.
-- whippinggas, Apr 09 2005

I aggree, [whippinggas], ideally there would be no littering... Along with killing, stealing, and bad hair cuts.

Last time I checked, "ideally" is a poor way to start out any countermeasure. Of course, ideally, it would be ideal.
-- daseva, Apr 11 2005

Hey, yeah...come to think of it, I haven't seen white dog poo in my teen/adult life. What happened? Is poo not left out to petrify and bleach in the sun anymore?

The second I read " 90% of this trash is white" I thought, "This is going to be fun." I was surprised to read nothing about white trash at all until [Afro]'s anno.
-- Machiavelli, Apr 12 2005

I apologize to the poo conversants. stuff taints the message board tho, no?
-- daseva, Apr 12 2005

Sorry, [Rom]. It's so easy to run off on tangents.
-- Machiavelli, Apr 12 2005

poo always bothers me...
-- po, Apr 12 2005

No po talk, poo! I mean,... Dammit!
-- daseva, Apr 12 2005

Why do I not get the joke? Or if I do (there are poor people of caucasian origin who are normally seen as being undesirable etc, why not make a robot to take them away etc - is that it?) I don't see why it's any different to talking about some other stratum of the population (Blacks, Jews, Italians, the Irish, Mexicans, the English, Americans, Toffs, Bums, Chavs, Indians, Pakistanis, Turks, Spaniards, Albanians, Russians, the French, Scots, the Welsh, Germans, Australians, Peruvians, Ugandans, Geeks, Hungarians, Managers, Security Guards, Blondes, Brunettes, The Rich, the Poor, left-handers, right-handers, nazis, socialists, republicans, Christians, Muslems, Scientologists, Jehova's Witnesses, One-Man-Bands, Clowns, New-Foundlanders, Vacouvians, Clansmen, Mimes, The Chinese, Japanese, Sudanese, Javanese, Taiwanese, Thais, that Dali Lama, Geordies... etc etc) that we might wish we could clean up.

For example, if the idea was to automate the clean up of ghetto trash, would it have been so well receieved?

I didn't go along the obvious and arguably offensive white trash route because I was giving Romulox the benefit of the doubt.

The idea itself is magical, and since rubbish isn't always white, impractical too. It's crying out for an [irked-for-deletion] for all these reasons, not to mention being based on a racist pun. It breaks ALL the half-bakery's rules, and yet...

And yet, the halfbakery has spoken - with at the time of writing (+17 -4). What has happpened halfbakery? Will someone please explain the bit I'm obviously missing?
-- zen_tom, Apr 13 2005

I completely missed the white trash reference when I read it. I just thought it was a robot which throws anything white-coloured away, which is a weak idea, but probably not mfd-able. I'm afraid impracticality isn't a reason for an mfd either.
-- hippo, Apr 13 2005

The joke wasn't inherent in the idea's post. And, though admittedly weak, "juvenile" to speak verbatim, something so simple tends to ring a bell in the minds of others. I don't think much has happened to the bakery, though I might speculate that after a handful of years of throwing around inventive ideas devoid of GM and black holes, for our 'bakery is only half, something this stupid is bound to pop up.
-- daseva, Apr 13 2005

I'm all for a spot of stupidity every now and then, but I am genuinely surprised [Rom] - you must either have veteran experience here, or have accidentally managed to successfully tread the finest of razor-edge, cheese-wire like lines with apparent and nonchalant impunity.
-- zen_tom, Apr 13 2005

Well, if it's not white poo people wanna talk about, its racism. In absolute honesty, I just wanted to post an idea about a robot that picks up white trash. God, it sounds so bad now! I like the attention the post has recieved, but I don't like racist ranting. It's destructive, negative, biased, ignorant shit, and its pretty sad that it came to somebody quoting Chris Rock.

But then again, we're all entitled, so, water under the bridge... I just wonder if adding the word "controversial" had anything to do with the ranting.
-- daseva, Apr 13 2005

Getting back to the robot-that picks-up-blanched-rubbish idea - yes it's a simple idea, but one that I feel is oversimplifying matters somewhat. White poos or no, there is always going to be a considerable abount of non-white trash littered about the place that this robot is going to miss.
Also, having the robots guided by an operator smacks a bit of a big selective vaccuum cleaner - I do like the idea of a herdsman/herd style relationship where a technitian tries to keep a flock of bumbling robots together on the pavement. I like that idea a lot.
-- zen_tom, Apr 13 2005

[zen], Thanks for your anno's. Poo, race or robots, your engaging. I like the herdman idea more and more too as I think of it. I will say, and it may be specific to where I live, but there is alot of white trash around. My estimate of 90% I still hold to. As I think of it, I'm realizing that I live in a medium sized sprawling american town with alot of suburban land, and parts of that land are overrun by litterbugs (southerners littler more than others, its a fact). So, I understand how someone might not get this at all. That is, the robot might not be as effective in a fully developed uprban setting. the concrete jungle may hide the white trash easier, and there may just not be as much of it.

[pondering trash memetics...]
-- daseva, Apr 13 2005

I liked the rule for determining what is trash. One could include other color frequencies as probably trash as well.
-- bungston, Apr 13 2005

Yup, got deleted. Nothing new to me, I guess. What's life without controversy?

I didn't see this idea as anything racial at all, just with an easy setup for an alley-oop.
-- AfroAssault, Apr 13 2005

<Marvin the paranoid android>'Brain the size of a planet and all they have me doing is picking up litter. I'm not getting you down at all, am I?'
-- RayfordSteele, Apr 13 2005

What about cops? If the trash man was a cop as well, it could try to give you a ticket but its main job is the origional idea just a trash man, so you could make funny gestures just like any other government official.
-- abadon, Nov 09 2007

//robots are coming faster than Jesus// [marked-for-tagline]
-- ed, Nov 09 2007

Why do I get the feeling that this idea sublimily(sp?) adds the phrase "white trash" into our minds?
-- Shadow Phoenix, Nov 09 2007

//robots are coming faster than Jesus//

Wow that works on at least three different levels...
-- RayfordSteele, Jul 29 2009

random, halfbakery