When the Gulf oil spill occured, attempts were made to clean it manually. It required deploying thousands of workers and still only few percentage of the spill was collected. The spill had very bad effects on the environment. Just google gulf oil spill in pictures.
Now researchers at MIT have come up with an autonomous robot to collect the oil from such spill. The video below shows how swarm of networked robots can be used to collect such spill.
The idea is nice because it does not need human intervention. Once left on the spill site, it can work spontaneously.