Month: April 2017

Dog Poop Pickup, Automated?

No matter how you scoop it, scrape it or rake it, dog poop pickup is a messy, smelly business. Or, a necessary household chore for those who choose to do it themselves. Regardless of how you decide to handle your pet waste removal needs, one thing’s for sure: have dog will poop. And, poop they do. Often. Most dogs poop at least 2-3 times per day on average. If pickup isn’t done properly and consistently, you’ll soon be looking at a backyard full of trouble (not to mention insects, rodents and disease). All fun stuff.

Over the years, there have been several attempts by businesses and inventors alike to put forth a product to the huge (and loyal) dog-owner market that solves the pain of picking up where your dog leaves off. There’s just one thing. These products, most of them at least, didn’t or don’t make cleaning up after our dogs much if any easier. The products, while still manually operated, cleaned and maintained like the PooTrap – Magic Poop Collector or the Super Scooper don’t make the lives of dog owners much easier, nor do they save time. In fact, it seems to be quite the opposite with many of these types of products.

From the YouTube product videos above, notice how much setup for both products is required. Also notice that once the poop is collected, you still must manually remove, tie off and discard the dog waste bag. Why pay for a product that demands more time than just simply picking up the poop with a standard disposable dog waste bag yourself? Gimmicky? Yes. Did they sell? Probably. However, if you go to the PooTrap website URL, you’ll notice it’s no more. You can buy the Super Scooper on Amazon.

These days, we’re all about automation. If you’re living in Silicon Valley (where we’re located) you see it all day long. Another venture-backed startup pops up claiming to disrupt or change (usually automate) the current status quo. That’s innovation, right? Sometimes they knock it out of the park. Most times they don’t—and fail.

And, while we’re all for automating and simplifying, usually on the business side of things, there have been some “tech startups” set out to automate the cleanup side of things. A couple “startups” have received a significant amount of publicity due to the claims they were making to solve the problem of dog waste pickup we’re discussing. Continue reading and you’ll soon learn why tech startups are in quotes above.

Last summer, in July of 2016, an on-demand pooper scooper app was getting a lot of publicity among many of the popular tech/media sites like the Washington PostThe Next Web and others. The app, appropriately called, Pooper, was positioned as the Uber for dog poop pickup. So, you have the “Pooper”, the one who’s out for a walk with his/her dog. And there’s the “Scooper”, the one who arrives at the scene to bag the poop and take it away. How does it work you ask? Simple. The Pooper’s dog does his business, the Pooper then opens the app, snaps a pic of the poop and submits it. A Scooper is then notified via the app and arrives to scoop the poop. Genius idea, right? Well, news of the new app went viral and gained attention from investors, as well as people who were interested in making some extra money driving to your location and picking up a pile of your dog’s poop.

It turned out that this “app” was actually a huge pile of crap. Pun intended. The creators of Pooper are two web designers living in Los Angeles, CA. They never had any intentions of actually building or launching the app. Their intentions were to make fun of the ever-growing demand economy, and how there’s an app for just about anything these days from on-demand rides, food delivery, and shopping services.

“Pooper is, in fact, a piece of art that is satirizing our app-obsessed world. Specifically, the increasing reliance on the gig-based economy to do stuff for us that we could easily do for ourselves,” says Becker, a Pooper “co-founder”.

The next and most recent company to automate dog poop pickup is a Dutch “startup” called Dogdrones. What does Dogdrones do you ask? Two Dogdrones – Watchdog 1 (WD1) and Patroldog 1 (PD1) combine drone technology in the air and on the ground to work together to combat the huge problem of undisposed dog poop plaguing the Netherlands.

With a camera and thermal imaging, WD1 is scanning its environment. The drone is able to detect dog poop while it still has the same body temperature of the dog. WD1 produces a heat map which shows the location of the dog poop. The drone translates the position into GPS coordinates and sends them directly to the ground drone PD1. By receiving GPS coordinates, PD1 gets the command to immediately dispose of the dog poop.

The idea behind the Dogdrones was not necessarily to market to residences or homeowners themselves, but to the municipalities. One of the co-founders states dog poop is not only annoying but also a serious problem. “In the Netherlands, every year 100 million kilos of dog poo are not disposed of.”

What a great idea. Now we can all walk our dogs, let them do their business in public and the Dogdrones will swoop in to pick it up and save the day. Sounds great in theory. But, as I do, I’m sure you see a plethora of problems and legalities this will run into.

Even if you’re in love with the idea, don’t get your hopes up too soon. It turns out this “startup” was an April Fool’s prank. However, the concept was intended to shed light on a huge problem and relay a message to dog owners and non-dog owners alike. The problem being the excessive amount of poop not being properly disposed of and the adverse consequences and health risks associated.

It’s interesting the amount of attention things involving dogs and poop garner—together or on their own. And while both of these “products” may induce humor, they both set out to make a point and send a message.

At Bombs Away, it’s exciting to think that we do have future plans to add a layer of technology to a low-tech service—be it streamlining communication, introducing new products and services, or enhancing the customer experience. The great thing about being located in Silicon Valley is you’re close to innovation and the people pushing it. We look forward to opportunities to work with others to further each other’s chances of success.

While we do know of (and welcome) some companies building widgets and other technology to solve the dog poop pickup conundrum, it looks like good old-fashioned human ability, manual labor and a good sense of social consciousness win for now.

So, folks, until we have robots like Rosie from the Jetsons (which is not far off) please remember to either pick up after your pets, always. Or, hire a company or someone to do it for you!