PHOTOS: Six Real-Life WALL-Es That Could Save the Earth

PHOTOS: Six Real-Life WALL-Es That Could Save the Earth
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Amazon Warrior

Chico Mendes campaigned to save the Amazon rain forest from logging and ranchers before he was shot dead in 1988. Today the activist's legacy lives on in the form of amphibious robots that patrol the Amazon River Basin.

Brazilian energy giant Petrobras developed the 5-foot-long (1.5-meter-long) "Chicos" in 2007 in conjunction with socio-environmental research program Piatam. The project aims to help Petrobras meet its environmental requirements while constructing a 261-mile (420-kilometer) gas pipeline along the Solimues River.

The remote-operated, solar-powered machines roam the basin collecting data on water chemistry as well as imagery and sound recordings that reveal any industrial impacts.

"The challenge was to create a tool that could reach the key spots in the habitat without causing greater harm," said project coordinator and bot creator Ney Robinson Salvi dos Reis, above. "We needed a device that could travel this terrain and show us what is in its path."

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—Photograph courtesy Erico Guizzo/IEEE Spectrum
 
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