About

Origin Story

Here’s the origin story from our founder Erin:

Walking along Toronto Island in January 2016, I was surprised to see a pile of debris at my feet. Looking up, I noticed it wasn’t just one pile, but an entire trail that extended along the entire beach.

There has to be a more efficient way to clean this up!

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After investigating this more, I noticed that there’s a gap between makers and environmentalists when it comes to developing grassroots tech for the field. You see, makers are super creative with limited resources and bring their tools. However, they sometimes do not see how to apply their skills to a problem. Environmentalists can give direction to the problems, and understand the deeper parts of it. Sometimes they can be skeptical of the technology, as they haven’t been a part of its development or had any input about it.

If we are able to help both groups work together, then we will be able to implement the innovations into existing efforts faster

The missions are designed to be tackling large challenges. Making difficult tasks more accessible through an iteration loop of Field Tests, observations, and designs. The missions will be determined by the community, and might vary depending on locations!

Our first mission is collecting shoreline debris, a global problem that has local effects. Next missions are in the works following this

Why build one specialised robot, when a platform can extend to multiple functionalities? The robot has to be able to be replicated in different locations. This means all 3d printed pieces using bio-degradable PLA filament, a few common mechanical components (screws), and a kit of electronic parts. Specific areas will have adapters to swap in / out modules for new purposes.

We want to create a module repository, where you can download different functionality to your robot, assemble it, and have it be ready for a new mission

Robot Missions will be looking for ambassadors in different locations to extend the overall purpose and make it sustainable in the longer term. Ambassadors will help with adapting the missions to their own local community, ecosystems, and terrain.

With chapters of Robot Missions around the world, we will be able to make robotics more accessible to assist with local challenges

With this in mind, we set off to make Robot Missions a reality! Think of it like the National Geographic Society, but for robotics meshing with nature to improve our environment.

Robot Missions started in Studio Y at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. The Mission Pilot is made possible by our Kickstarter backers.

Canadian Ministers Engaging with Robot Missions

Policy will play an important role in the use of robotics in the future. We have been excited to see multiple Ministers discussing and engaging with Robot Missions:

With the Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development:

Mentioned by Canadian Minister of Environment & Climate Change:

Met with Minister of Finance for Ontario, included in this video update:

Press

“[…] leading an initiative hoping to inspire makers and technologists to design robots that can assist in clean-up of public beaches and shorelines from the constant build-up of ecology-harming litter.” – What She Said! Interview

“[…] on a mission to help the world with robots, and to show the world that anyone can make robots that matter.” – Dr. Kiki Sanford, This Week in Science

“Ottawa woman creates Bowie the beach-cleaning robot; 4-wheeled robot inspired by Mars rover, named after late singer” – Chloé Fedio and Giacomo Panico, CBC Ottawa

“This project is a great example of young makers and engineers working to promote environmental stewardship through engineering and robotics.” – Tom Spendlove, Engineering.com

“It seems that when someone with an engineering or DIY mindset collaborates with someone with different experiences – musical talent, for example – really neat things get made.” – Jeremy Cook, RoboticsTrends.com

“Kennedy is using her passion for robotics to improve the environment” – Laurie Monsebraaten, Toronto Star

“Robot is on a mission to clean up Great Lakes shorelines” – Morgan Linn, Great Lakes Echo

“Robot Missions is on a mission to improve the environment, one bot at a time” – Laura Mordas-Schenkein, Inhabitat.com

#MaRSorbit:

Founder

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Robot Missions is founded by Erin RobotGrrl. She is a robot maker and technologist. Erin was one of 25 young leaders in Ontario selected for a Studio Y fellowship at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

Representing Canada at the RoboGames (the robot Olympics), she won a gold medal for her work. Erin is the host of the Robot Party, a Google+ Hangout that sees up to 1 million robot builders join internationally and demo the robots