This device created by a family could clean an entire lake

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Lake Titicaca, which is plagued by the plant 'duckweed', could be cleaned thanks to a device created by a Bolivian family

This device created by a family could clean an entire lake

After an artificial intelligence contest in which 7,500 participants from 13 different countries competed, a Bolivian family won the opportunity to present their project in Silicon Valley. The device they presented in the contest is a kind of vacuum cleaner, made with reused household materials, and aims to clean Lake Titicaca.

Leer en español: Este dispositivo creado por una familia podría limpiar todo un lago

The vacuum cleaner, which they created with elements such as old games, could be an immense advance in the decontamination of lakes like this, as it is contaminated by a specific type of plant, the duckweed, which prevents the development of life at the bottom of the waters, since it forms on the surface and, moreover, is difficult to subtract. To the naked eye, this plant can seem even surprising to see, and it is a food source of several animals, but it leaves the waters without the possibility of developing life.


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Yair Vega, who is 11 years old, was the leading participant of this finalist family. Together with his six-year-old brother and his parents, they created this vacuum with bottles, jars and other items that they easily obtained and that are reused. Besides, the vacuum has a camera that was programmed to detect the duckweed, and that is the element that sucks the device.

The contest AI Family Challenge is the first international artificial intelligence for families and is driven by Curiosity Machine. This program "has the mission of empowering children and their families to become leaders in innovation for the future," according to what it says on its website. This program taught the participants during a year about artificial intelligence so that after that they could develop their projects. Through fostering creativity, they allow children to create what they want from home elements to generate sustainable artificial intelligence devices.

The next 16th to 19th of May will be the finalists of the contest in Silicon Valley. According to El Espectador, other finalists with which this project will be competing will be a Palestinian family that uses technology to analyze drawings of children to determine if they face any violence. Another finalist is a family from Pakistan, who created an algorithm to determine the oral health of children.

Lake Titicaca and duckweed

This lake, located between Bolivia and Ecuador, has been profoundly affected by pollution since the last decades. According to Sustainable Week, garbage and illegal extraction of minerals are one of the main factors of this. However, this high contamination has led to the formation of a plague, which is what is killing the life of the lake.

Duckweed, as it is commonly known, is a tiny plant that multiplies rapidly and merges to create a layer on the surface of freshwater. Although it is believed that this plant is the one that contaminates the waters, in reality the process is reversed. That is, according to the YouTube channel Provan2008, it is the same man who abuses the waters, and when waste is thrown away, this plant begins to reproduce, which soon becomes a plague.

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According to Yair Vega, in an interview for EFE, "what affects is that under it there is no oxygen and there is no light [...], then underneath there are no more fish, the fauna and flora disappear". In this way, if the project were to be developed, it would be an opportunity for this lake and many other fresh lakes that have this plant, to re-develop life in them.


LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

Translated from "Este dispositivo creado por una familia podría limpiar todo un lago"