Having a pool is fun. Cleaning it by dragging a net around is not. That’s why I’ve thought up the Moobi, a water-loving take on the Roomba vacuum cleaner.

Like a whale, the Moobi use an oscillating tail, wagging up and down, to move through the water. And like a whale, it would live its life with its mouth wide open, sucking down water and filtering out waste as if it were tasty plankton. A water jet on the tail would kick up debris that’s settled on the pool floor.

Charles Bombardier


A mechanical engineer and a member of the family whose aerospace and transportation company builds trains, planes, and more, Bombardier’s at his best when he ignores pesky things like budgets, timelines, and contemporary physics. Since 2013, he’s run a blog cataloging more than 200 concepts, each a fantastic, farfetched new way for people to travel through land, air, water, and space. His ideas are out there, but it’s Bombardier’s sort of creative thinking that keeps us moving forward.

After each cleaning tour, the Moobi park at an induction terminal to power up. The charging station would also be equipped to pull out the accumulated trash, and dispose of it (how about throwing it over the fence into the neighbor’s yard?).

Because dead leaves aren’t the only thing that invade pools, the Moobi would carry instruments to analyze the water quality and inform you when you to toss in some extra chlorine.

The Moobi, which I named after Melville’s white whale, would come in different sizes to fit a range of needs, and could be named after whales species, from Blue to Pygmy.

Kids could even play with it as it makes its rounds. And if they decide to live out the days of summer inside playing video games, at least you know someone—well, something—is spending time in the water.

I developed the Moobi concept in collaboration with Jan Bujnak, a freelance industrial designer from Slovakia. Jan also produced the concept images for the Bioraemotion sensing bike and the Typhon personal hovercraft.

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