NewsPinellas County


'BeBot' ready to get to work cleaning Pinellas beaches

Through July, Keep Florida Beautiful's remote-controlled robot will sift sand on Pinellas Co. beaches for small pieces of litter.
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Posted at 7:36 AM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 08:06:04-04

Beaches up and down Pinellas County will soon get a special visitor that’s unlike others. A robot — called BeBot — is on a mission to make beaches cleaner and will make stops at 14 of the county’s beaches during the month of July.

According to the Keep Florida Beautiful website, BeBot was made possible by a donation from the Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation and is supported by other partnerships.

BeBot, about the size of a John Deere Gator, has a special talent. It sifts the top layer of sand for tiny pieces of plastic and litter that are easily overlooked: cigarette butts, bottle caps, food wrappers, and more.

It can clean about a football field-sized area about every hour and a half. It’s 100% electric and remote-controlled.

Keep Florida Beautiful is the first nonprofit in the country to use the new technology, and after BeBot spent time in Brevard County on Florida’s Space Coast, it’s now focused on Pinellas County and assisting clean-ups conducted by Keep Pinellas Beautiful, a chapter of Keep Florida Beautiful.

Pat DePlasco, the executive director of Keep Pinellas Beautiful, believes BeBot’s real strength is through education and awareness.

“The reason why we’re using this is so that we can show people that what they’re accidentally leaving behind because you know, the majority of beach-goers are really — especially the people that live down here — they want to keep our beaches beautiful,” she said. “Heck! If everybody just does a little bit, think about what a more beautiful world we can make.”

Tuesday, it will start its Pinellas County stint on Madeira Beach with future stops during the rest of July in 13 other spots, like Treasure Island, Honeymoon Island, Fort DeSoto, and more in the coming weeks. See the full schedule and sign up to volunteer here.

“It’s a good idea, you know, when you’re leaving the beach and you’re picking up all your belongings, check for your belongings, and then check for those little pieces of trash that we might leave behind,” DePlasco reminded.