Tulane STEM students create lego robot to clean Mardi Gras debris

METAIRIE, La. -- What if I told you there was a robot made of legos that could clean up Mardi Gras debris?

Students who are involved in Tulane's Summer Enrichment Institute in STEM are working to do just that.

After the masses walk away from the spectacle that is parades, beads, and famous throws, thousands are hired to clean up the streets as quickly and methodically as possible.

Instructor Michael Stohlman asked the students one life question that he hoped they would solve through technology.

"How do we take the aftermath with all of the beads and all of the trash, and how do we use technology or robotics to make that a more efficient process?" says Stohlman.

First, Stohlman had the students sift through thousands of Mardi Gras beads and throws to show how tedious the process can be.

"What I wanted them to do was see what manually separating them is like, and then think about while they are manually separating them, how can we make this process more effecient?" says Stohlman.

The students all expressed how they feel like technology is the future.

"To me, it really means I'm helping the community. After Mardi Gras parades, it can be crazy and it's a lot for a human task force to do," says student Samuel Echols.

"In today's age, almost everything is technology based. Not everything, but it's getting there," says student Calvin Seeg.

Stohlman says we could see robots cut out some manual labor, but it will take several operators with the proper knowledge to run this machine.

"Somebody has to know how to operate and code these robots. So, not only are they learning about robotics, they are learning about the coding aspect too like the programming, the actual movements of the robots," says Stohlman.

Did I also mention it's a machine that can clean up beads and separate them according to color?

The demonstration was held on Wednesday at the Arc of Greater New Orleans by showcasing four different lego-made robots.