Speare Getty Images/iStockphoto
By Barb Darrow
January 23, 2017

Lots of people from factory workers to paralegals to airline pilots worry that automation will steal their jobs. But some jobs are so dirty, so gross, it’s hard to see how anyone would mind turning them over to a robot.

How about collecting and analyzing sewage? It’s unclear who would really want to do what a robot called Luigi out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology does—gather samples from sewer pipes for testing and analysis, according to a recent Boston Globe story and other reports (some of which dubbed Luigi a poopbot).

The robot out of MIT’s Senseable City Lab was created to help researchers examine what’s going on in a given neighborhood based on what’s in its sewer pipes. Sewage can tell scientists about infectious diseases and drug use, for example. Not to mention environmental pollutants.

Researchers still have to deal with testing what Luigi surfaces but here’s betting none of them would trade places with Luigi in the trenches, so to speak.

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There are many dirty jobs that humans might gratefully turn over to robots. There already are floor vacuum robots like iRobot Roomba and Samsung PowerBot to handle household cleaning chores. Irobot (irbt) also sells a floor washing version called Braava. But where is the toilet-cleaning robot? Talk about a killer app.

It looks like there is such a thing under development. Toibot, based in Haifa, Israel, is taking preorders for what it calls a “motorized toilet-bowl cleaning robot” that will work on any toilet model. Toibot is expected to be available by the end of this year.

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Along the same line, dog owners might be into a poop-scoop automaton. Litter Robot, a self-cleaning litter box which starts at $349, already exists for the feline contingent.

All of these items, if they aren’t too intrusive and work as advertised, could be helpful additions for people who don’t love to clean but who also don’t spring for a cleaning service in which case they wouldn’t put anybody out of work. Win-win.

 

DATE (01/23/2017 12:50 p.m): This story was updated to add date Toibot is expected to be available.

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