【任劳任怨的下水道机器人】来自 MIT Senseable City Lab 的 Ratti 和他的团队近日研制出了针对细菌病毒和化学物质的机器人Luigi。Luigi 脱胎于第一代机器人Mario ， 但与 Mario 需要人工塞满垃圾不同 ，Luigi可以完全使用智能手机控制，会进入城市的每个下水道一到两个小时， 通过超声波感应器确定范围，利用泵吸收液体，过滤器阻止杂物进入，管道记录病毒和细菌。机器人上安装着探孔和GPS，便于研究员追踪轨迹。Ratti和他的团队可以通过监测污水样本理解人类的健康和行为，可以作为城市健康的重要指标。研究人员称，这一平台的意义不仅仅是疾病监测，也可能会成为一种新型的人口普查方式。
That's one job a robot is welcome to: Luigi the poopbot set to scour sewers and analyse human waste for viruses
By STACY LIBERATORE
Below the bustling streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Luigi is sifting through human waste and gathering data on some 107, 000 people.
The smart bot is part of an MIT project to analyse human waste - and could track the health of a city.
Luigi is the creation of Senseable City Lab, which was founded 12 years ago to 'explore the overlap of the digital and the physical within cities'.
'We can reveal the invisible in a city,' explains s Carlo Ratti, Director of the Senseable City Lab.
'For every cell in the human body there are around ten bacterial cells, constituting the human microbiome which has recently been recognized as a key determinant of an individual's health and wellness – how can we measure something like the microbiome at the scale of an entire city, such as Cambridge?'
Laboratory analysis typically finds more than 50,000 different bacteria living inside a human's stomach.
However, by the time the waste reaches a treatment plant, it has been watered down and rendered useless for sampling - this is where Luigi comes in.
MIT's sewage slurping robot is lowered into manholes and fitted with GPS devices that let researchers follow along on the journey.
The machine is fitted with ultrasonic sensors, which helps the cylindrical robot hover 40 centimeters above its target, reports Spectrum IEEE.
Next, the waste passes through another tube to a camping water filter that strainers the liquid and traps viruses and bacteria.
Once the sewage is gathered, Ratti and his team can monitor the samples to do 'real-time urban epidemiology and understand human health and behavior with a fine spatiotemporal solution,' researchers explain on the Underworlds website.
The first application of smart sewage technology will be infectious disease surveillance, as the team hopes to develop methods for early detection of viral outbreaks.
Underworlds will also look at how 'smart sewage' could affect the way non-communicable disease such as obesity and diabetes.
'The implications of this platform extend beyond just disease surveillance to the development of a new type of human population census,' explains researchers.
'Analyzed in tandem with demographic data, this platform can study the aggregate health of a city to the particular health of a neighborhood.'
The entire project will study urban geography, network topology and demographic distribution in conjunction with wastewater loads over time, to propose and validate a model that informs wastewater sampling and correlates to target population samples.
'The MIT project is extremely ambitious and pioneering,' said Christian Daughton, a chemist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
'If this project proves successful in demonstrating some sort of proof of principle, it could represent a significant, seminal advancement in the prospects for quickly and inexpensively monitoring public health in real time.'
Rattiand his team will eventually design their creation to run autonomously, process samples on its own and live-stream data back to scientists.
Although Luigi may be the older brother in the Mario Brothers series, he is the successor to Mario in MIT's project.
The first robot, Mario, was a prototype designed with sewage-sucking syringes that were constantly being clogged with waste.
It also had to be manually and researchers warned its battery packs could possibly catch on fire.