Robert Downey Jr. Wants to Use Robotics to Fight Climate Change, So He Launched the Footprint Coalition

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Jun. 5 2019, Updated 12:18 p.m. ET

robert downey jr footprint coalition
Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Robert Downey Jr. is taking a page out of Iron Man's book. The movie star just announced the Footprint Coalition, a new initiative with a goal of cleaning up the planet by using robotics and technology. The scientist-led coalition will officially launch in about a year, and Downey Jr. hopes it will make a significant dent in combatting the climate crisis.

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Downey Jr. unveiled his plans for the Footprint Coalition at Amazon's re:MARS (machine learning, automation, robotics and space) conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, June 4, Business Insider reported. The actor treated the audience to a presentation, complete with a slideshow, Tony Stark references, and conversations with an Amazon Alexa. But then, he shared the story of how he came up with the Footprint Coalition.

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"I was at a table with super smart, impressive, expert folks about six months ago, and the following statement was made: 'Between robotics and technology, we could probably clean up the planet significantly, if not entirely within a decade,'" Downey Jr. said in his presentation, as per Business Insider. "Being essentially a 54-year-old child, I said, 'Let's do it! Let's commit to a process, let's form a coalition.' And that did not inspire the reaction I expected. It was dead silence."

Unfortunately, the geniuses surrounding him weren't as excited as he was, telling him that even though technology probably existed that could solve the climate crisis, it would be impossible to get the cooperation they would need from the government and corporations.

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But, as Downey Jr. told the crowd, he's now unemployed, since he's finally wrapped up more than a decade of playing Iron Man. So, he's going to take a risk, and dedicate time to getting these scientists around the red tape.

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“I know it’s a kumbaya-type dream. It’s a logistical clusterf--k. I’m down with dedicating myself to maybe one small part of making good on that statement. Even in abject failure, it’s still the best idea I’ve ever had,” he told the re:MARS audience, according to Fast Company. “In 11 years, when I’m 65, if we’ve made even a little dent in what I think is a massive threat to our future and the mess we leave behind, I’m going to come back and throw the nuttiest retirement party you’ve ever seen.”

The Footprint Coalition won't officially launch until April 2020, but those interested in following along can sign up for updates on the initiative's website. Doing so results in an automatic email from Downey Jr. himself.

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“I am a one-man carbon footprint nightmare colossus,” Downey Jr. wrote in the email, quoting himself from his re:MARS presentation. "Yeah, I know. I gotta work on that. We ALL have to work on our carbon footprints," his email continued. "And that is why we’re here, together. Hi there. Hello. I’m going to take the next 11 months to properly plan this coalition, and I’ll keep you posted as we do it."

Come April 2020, hopefully Robert Downey Jr. and his scientists buddies will be equipped to save the world. 

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