We've already heard of a trash can for the sea. Now scientists have gone a step further and built a drone that will pick up garbage in the water. Richard Hardiman, a South African entrepreneur, has built a small water-based drone that he claims can collect up to 500 kilos of waste in its basket, which goes down to a foot beneath the water's surface.
Meet the Waste Shark:
Hardiman has built four Waste Shark prototypes, which the Port of Rotterdam Authority in the Netherlands are going to test out. The drones, which are "the size of a passenger car," have a large mouth below the surface of the water that they use to pick up garbage. Since the drones are autonomous, they don't need to be controlled and can instead travel around the port putting away trash. Meanwhile, the robots also collect data about the water and can plan out different routes to take while cleaning.
The Waste Sharks have been in the works for a few years, building on the experience of the smaller AquasmartXL drone. Rotterdam's experiment is now a key test of whether Hardiman's prototype translates into real world experience. The robots will have to navigate all the various objects they might come across in the water, avoid boats and human beings and actually pick up trash in a useful manner.
A similar product, the seabin, tries to do the same thing, but will also take some testing – and cost-effective manufacturing – before they can become feasible. If and when they turn viable though, there will be plenty of a market for these machines in India, where the rivers run thick with pollution and garbage. Could adding (robotic) Sharks help?