The Row-bot is a newly designed fuel cell given life by bacteria living inside the robot. The Bacteria inside the device work together to produce the electricity needed to power the robot. What makes this fuel cell unique is the actions taken by the bacteria to generate the electricity.
The Row-bot consists of four tiny buoyant stabilizers for feet and two paddles that extend from the middle of its body. The feet make sure the robot stays afloat, while the paddles help it move across the the surface of the water. The gadget inhales water and stores it, the electrogenic bacteria then digests th pollutants found within the water. The bacteria then uses the pollutants and converts it into the electricity needed to keep the robot moving.
The Row-Bot was designed by researchers from the University of Bristol, Bristol BioEnergy Centre and Bristol Robotics Laboratory, all located in Bristol, England.
The researchers wrote “We present a design for an energetically autonomous artificial organism, combining two subsystems; a bioinspired energy source and bio-inspired actuation,” . “The work is the first demonstration of energetically autonomy in a microbial fuel cell (MFC)-powered, swimming robot taking energy from it’s surrounding, aqueous environment. In contrast to previous work using stacked MFC power sources, the Row-bot employs a single microbial fuel cell as an artificial stomach and uses commercially available voltage step-up hardware to produce usable voltages.”
The team continued, “The energy generated exceeds the energy requirement to complete the mechanical actuation needed to refuel. Energy production and actuation are demonstrated separately with the results showing that the combination of these subsystems will produce closed-loop energetic autonomy. The work shows a crucial step in the development of autonomous robots capable of long term self-power.”
Basically the team designed a self-driving, self-powered robot fueled by waste that pollutes the Earth.