£30k robot-bins that deliver news while removing rubbish arrive in the City


The first batch of a new generation bins have begun delivering the financial news and travel updates to workers in the City – as well as collecting their rubbish.

London-based firm Renew has installed 50 of its futuristic bins in the City and up to 100 may be in place by the time the Olympic Games get under way, the company said.

The bins have a capacity of 140 litres, but it is the 32-inch screens on each unit that will catch the eye of even the busiest commuter. Renew broadcasts between 6am and midnight each day the markets are open and offers the latest financial and corporate news to keep City professionals up to speed.

The units are already a familiar sight outside BT Tower, Heron Tower and Aldgate station, along with a number of busy commuter points across the City.

Renew’s bins are designed to be more than just a rolling news service, though. Depending on where the units are located, commuters can be told about the amount of ‘Boris bikes’ left at a nearby station, or receive instructions from emergency services if there is a major incident.

Chris O’Connor, the company’s chief financial officer, said: “The City of London has been imaginative and shown great leadership in creating a contract for this new on-the-go initiative which provides high levels of public amenity for its citizens.

“We believe the clear benefits of Renew will quickly be appreciated by other international financial and business centres.”

Putting technology like this on the street does not come cheap. Each bin costs approximately £30,000 once development, construction and installation is taken into account.

The bins are made with a high-strength steel derivative to make them blast resistant, contributing to the hefty price tag. There is a glass reinforced plastic shell on the outside of the bin, while they also have a gel-like biodynamic armour to embed bomb fragments. The LCD screens are protected by doubled-walled aluminium housings.

Renew, which was established in 2007, is currently developing the wireless capability of the bins so they can become WiFi hotspots, but there are no plans to update the original design for now.

Chief executive Kaveh Memari said: “Millions of events happen in the City each day, from market developments to transport failures, which are difficult to forecast but are highly relevant to our working life in the City. Renew is the only channel that broadcasts this information directly to professionals on-the-go.”

With new units popping up across the City, Renew has now set its sights on other financial districts. A test pod is to be installed outside the New York Stock Exchange in Lower Manhattan, while Renew is in talks for similar deals with Singapore and Tokyo.