This Row-bot doesn't like to go gently down the stream. Encountering filth and sewage is its form of merrily achieving life's dreams.

In fact, it thrives on pollution — the more, the merrier. The Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of Bristol has developed the Row-bot autonomous swimming robot with the aim of ridding the water of pollutants and other dangerous contaminants. 

The Row-bot is equipped with a microbial fuel cell stomach that allows it to digest dirty water before using the bio-degradation of organic matter to generate electricity via bio-inspired mechanisms. That same electrical energy keeps the Row-bot propelling as it continues its efforts.

Not only does the Row-bot mark a success for self-powering robots, but it's also a victory for autonomous cleaning.

"The work shows a crucial step in the development of autonomous robots capable of long-term self-power," Jonathan Rossiter, professor of robotics at the University of Bristol and BRL, said as part of the University's announcement. "Most robots require recharging or refueling, often requiring human involvement."

Hemma Philamore, Ph.D. student at the University of Bristol's BRL, said, "We anticipate that the Row-bot will be used in environmental clean-up operations of contaminants, such as oil spills and harmful algal bloom, and in long term autonomous environmental monitoring of hazardous environments, for example those hit by natural and man-made disasters."

Imagine what a fleet of these Row-bots could do spread apart in a massive body of water, especially during unforeseen drastic circumstances such as those to which Philamore alluded.

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