Designers in Hong Kong have come up with a concept for air-purifying robots which ingest carbon dioxide, cleaning city air and producing fuel.
NAS-DRA, the team behind the ‘parasitic robots’, has explained that these devices would attach onto billboards in cities such as Hong Kong sucking in urban pollution during daylight hours through a carbon-absorbent polymer paint. At night the robots would use the heat given off from the neon lighting to process the CO2 into a source of energy.
The captured carbon dioxide will in turn help the growth of small plants planted along the robots’ wings. The developers also suggest that the system would be able to collect organic waste from the plants to create biogas, while the extra carbon dioxide could be used to create methane.
Additionally, the power from these fuels could be used to run the robots themselves, making them self-sufficient.
The company’s website describes the concept rather more eloquently:
They wait until the night comes and neon ads flash the streets, then they embrace the colourful heat of information and inhale the pure carbon dioxide, feeding the plants covering their surface.
“It’s purely fighting for a green on the street, for less air pollution, light pollution, noise pollution and information pollution,” said Michal Jurgielewicz, the Beijing-based architect behind the idea.
“The plants are planted and harvested by humans using hydroponic farming […] We’re aware that urban conditions can be harsh and growing the plants for food can be difficult. It should be adjusted to the place and conditions, so using sensors, one can modify how plants should be grown,” Jurgielewicz added.
Many features of the robotic design are still in development at the University of California, Los Angeles, including the carbon-absorbing polymer paint. However, the design collective is hoping to start large-scale testing of the new models and prototypes soon.