Dustbots clean up Bilbao

The all-new Dusty Bin has sensors to measure levels of nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide in the air

TechRadar can exclusively reveal that Dusty Bin is alive and well and living in Bilbao - although now he prefers to be called Dustbot.

The ex-sidekick of game show host Ted Rogers has lost his rubbery arms and yellow boots, and has been reduced to accepting rubbish from strangers at Bilbao's main train station.

He's put on a lot of weight (now up to 70kg) and surprisingly some height, too, measuring an intimidating 1.45 metres tall as he begs scraps of litter from passers-by.

Now clean up that gravy train, Dusty

The European Dustbot research programme aims to put a robot in public spaces across the continent. These latest versions are apparently suitable for the monitoring of large areas, as guides in large shopping malls and for accompanying the elderly or people with disabilities (both at home and outside).

Combining infrared sensors, ultrasound and a laser scanner, the Dustbots can follow an internal map, avoid obstacles, approach people and monitor air quality. GPRS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth links allow them to communicate with each other, a local 'Intelligent Ambience' nucleus and remote telecentres.

All that technology is harnessed for the essential task of picking up empty crisp packets, says Iñaki Inzunza, Director of the Business Unit at the Tecnalia Technological Corporation: "These robots are the solution for cleaning areas of difficult access, for the collection of rubbish at the front door and, above all, helping persons with mobility problems move rubbish to communal waste containers." As easily as 3-2-1, presumably.

One small comfort is that Ted Rogers isn't around to see the depths to which his cybernetic pal has fallen - he passed away in 2001.