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Orange Sparkle Ball Launches Autonomous Robot Pickup Pilots in Detroit

Orange Sparkle Ball was awarded a Real World Deployment Grant from the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification for a series of pilots testing autonomous robotic pickup.

ATLANTA, April 29, 2024 -- Orange Sparkle Ball, an innovation and impact accelerator based in Atlanta, Georgia, announced today it will be launching an Autonomous Robotic Pickup Platform in Detroit, Michigan with funding from the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform (MMFP) provided by the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME). OFME launched the MMFP to provide support to mobility and electrification companies looking to deploy their technology solutions in the state of Michigan.

"This pilot program is the latest example of how the state's commitment to mobility expands beyond the movement of people to find real world solutions to challenges impacting our communities," said Justine Johnson, Chief Mobility Officer of the State of Michigan. "The sustainable benefits of investments in mobility solutions continue to manifest in new, groundbreaking ways and Michigan is proud to be at the forefront of autonomous robotic pickup with the support of Orange Sparkle Ball."

Orange Sparkle Ball plans to build an Autonomous Robotic Pickup Platform by conducting a series of pilots to explore pickup of end-of-life materials. "We're excited to take our years of experience testing autonomous robotic solutions and focus on picking up end-of-life materials. And Detroit is a fantastic place to deploy these civic infrastructure tests as the city is focused both on future technology opportunities and the needs of communities," says Orange Sparkle Ball's Ashley Touchton. The company will launch the project by picking up residential and commercial food waste for composting. This first test involves Ottonomy, an autonomous robot startup, picking up food waste in partnership with Detroit composting startup Scrap Soils and Brother Nature, an urban farm in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood.

Meaghan Kennedy, founder of Orange Sparkle Ball, explains, "The use of this technology for pickup has been under investigated, and we're happy to be exploring expanded use of autonomous robot technology. Additionally, as a Michigander, I'm particularly proud to be conducting these pilots in Detroit. The unique expedited permitting process implemented by the City of Detroit in a first-of-its-kind Transportation Innovation Zone and the mobility funding platform from the State of Michigan built to support startups is allowing us to explore new mobility use cases in Michigan, partnering with several Michigan-based technology companies and community partners."

Orange Sparkle Ball plans to conduct each phase of the project in the Transportation Innovation Zone (TIZ) established by the City of Detroit's Office of Mobility Innovation (OMI) in Corktown. The project will leverage the expedited permitting process established by OMI and has already received a permit for the first pilot.

With years of experience working with startup technology, Orange Sparkle Ball is well-positioned to build solutions into a civic tech platform, providing new opportunities for both technology startups and the community. Further, it is costly, both in terms of time and money, to provide services to less densely populated areas, so utilizing autonomous technology provides an exciting opportunity for the future of city services.

After completing the initial food waste pickup pilot, Orange Sparkle Ball will continue exploring autonomous pickup tests in Detroit through the end of 2024. Following completion of the composting pilot, subsequent tests will involve several autonomous technology partners, including Michigan-founded Refraction AI and Detroit-based Intermode, all with the goal of understanding how autonomous technology might fill gaps in city infrastructure while providing for community good.

About Orange Sparkle Ball

Orange Sparkle Ball is an innovation and impact accelerator sitting at the junction of research, technology, human-centered design principles, and organizational goals. Orange Sparkle Ball creates organization and community-focused innovation programs, runs data-driven pilots to demonstrate proof of the future state, creates multi-faceted communication strategies to stakeholders, and develops environments that support progress toward metrics or key performance indicators. Experience with government, industry, startups, public/private partnerships, and academia allows Orange Sparkle Ball to provide a full ecosystem approach to customized solutions. For further information, visit

SOURCE Orange Sparkle Ball