Hong Kong startup Open Ocean Engineering has developed a solar-powered, semi-submersible rubbish scooper called ClearBot.
A prize winner of the 2019 Global Grand Challenges Summit (GGCS) and commercially launched in November 2020, the inexpensive marine plastic collecting robot system could end up positively impacting coastal communities in poor countries as well as rid beaches from looking like rubbish dumps.
No doubt, clearing the vast Great Pacific Debris Field is still in the reckoning for Open Ocean Engineering, but what it plans to do first is remove debris from local waterways.
Its Clearbot system is a swarm of trash collecting robots that use AI-Vision to detect and collect trash from water bodies.
These semi-submersible robotic marine trash collectors are fully autonomous, solar-powered, and work as a team to remove the trash.
According to its creators, the Clearbot is 15x cheaper, has 5x more reach, and removes 2x more trash daily. One or more robots can be remotely controlled in real-time, or they can work autonomously.
When it operates autonomously, the Clearbot either moves back and forth across a predefined area or uses its integrated computer vision system to detect and chase pieces of floating debris.
In either case, debris passes through the robot’s open nose and accumulates in a mesh container inside. Its creators say that a front conveyor belt system is under development for more efficient waste collection.
Once its trash can is full or its battery depleted, the robot returns to the central docking station. There, its trash is automatically emptied and its battery is charged using a solar-powered charging system.
For stats sake, a single robot can hold up to 200 liters of waste, and can thoroughly clean the surface of 1 square kilometer of water within an eight-hour period.
One charge of its battery should be good for a claimed 48 hours of use and the dock too can hold up to four robot-loads of garbage before requiring manual removal.
Image and content: ClearBot/InceptiveMind