In addition to improving the aesthetic feel of a city, removing litter from local waterways can prevent plastic waste and other types of debris from ending up in the ocean, where waste is a lot more difficult to retrieve.
With that in mind, Hong Kong-based startup Open Ocean Engineering has developed the Clearbot — an aquatic robot that removes litter floating in harbors, lakes, and canals. The bots can be remotely controlled in real-time, or they can operate autonomously.
In the latter case, the Clearbot either moves back and forth across a predefined geofenced area, or it uses its smart vision system to identify and go after individual pieces of floating trash. Either way, the trash goes through the robot’s open bow, accumulating in a mesh bin within.
Its battery allows Clearbot to run for 48 hours straight. Once the battery starts getting low — or once its litter bin is full — the robot makes its way back to a central docking station, where the bin is automatically emptied and the battery recharged.
As the company reports, one single robot can hold up to 200 liters (53 gallons) of waste, and can thoroughly clean the surface of 1 square kilometer (0.4 square miles) of water in an eight-hour time frame.
“At the moment we’re focused on scaling up our solution in Hong Kong with land reclamation companies, where we help them with daily site cleanup activities,” says company co-founder Sidhant Gupta. “We also have an on-hold project in Surabaya, Indonesia where we’ll be cleaning up two urban canals, currently awaiting Covid lockdown clearance.”