Solar Street Vacuum

Solar-Powered Street Vacuum Makes Debut in Austin

Solar-Umba 4000, the world's first solar-powered street vacuum, made its debut in Austin, Texas on Earth Day 2023.

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — You may have recently seen a strange contraption picking up trash along the streets of Austin. It’s called the Solar-Umba 4000. It turns out the sun can be used to clean our streets.

Freedom Solar made a solar-powered Roomba-like contraption.

“Underneath the solar panel here, which is how it gets its power, there’s a sort of a street sweeping vacuum element that as it moves forward, picks up the trash and puts it in a bin that get we can empty out,” said Sherren Harter, Chief Marketing Officer for Freedom Solar Power.

It took some development and a lot of welding to put together.

“It was an idea that we’ve kind of talked about and batted around and then to see it actually work was was a bit of an ‘aha’ moment for us. We were pretty pumped about it,” added Bret Biggart, CEO of Freedom Solar.

But once it was ready, it debuted in Austin on Earth Day… and not just to turn a few heads.

“One is to show that solar can do more than you think it can do. Two was to raise awareness for Earth Day. And the third was to show that each little thing that we do makes a difference,” said Biggart.

The Solar Umba 4000 measures seven feet in diameter. It can pick up to 110 pounds of trash per load, and it’s got a top speed of 12 miles per hour.

While you won’t see this oversized vacuum cleaning the streets of Austin every day, Freedom Solar hope the message sticks.

According to Harter, “We wanted to show people not just on Earth Day, but every day that solar is actually one of the best ways that you can improve your environmental footprint and save some money in the process.”

As for next year?

“We will definitely be going bigger and louder. So stay tuned. More to come,” promised Biggart.

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