The Tumbleweed Desert is a project by Shlomi Mir that’s designed to prevent the spreading desert. It’s designed to run autonomously for years collecting data on wind patterns to determine how the desertification is affecting land conditions. It’ll plant grasses in strategic locations, drylands in danger of the spreading desert to stabilize erosion from the elements.
The system opts for wind power for movement over inherently inefficient solar and electric motors. It’s round design resembles a tumbleweed and its arrangement of sails allows for the robot to roll along at great speeds. While the direction is mostly uncontrollable it’s intelligent enough to know which winds to take, allowing some directional control. By altering its spherical shape it can stop winds taking it and wait for a wind direction it wants.
It’s still a work in progress but indeed an intuitively simple solution to an ever increasing problem. The hope is to have a heard of these in operation at a time, sharing information and slowly creating a barrier to defend against the intrusive desert.