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By Annie Palmer
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Called WasteShark, it can pick up to 1,100lbs of plastic, bags and floating trash. The device lasts up to 16 hours on a single charge and monitor water quality data. It’s now being deployed in Dubai after successful tests in the Netherlands
The aquadrone takes its name from the Whale Shark in its wide-bodied design and vacuum-like mouth. Users steer the device with a controller and its movements are tracked by a GPS signal
A high-tech drone, referred to as the ‘Wall-E of the water,’ could be the key to cleaning up our oceans. The WasteShark is an aquadrone that vacuums up garbage from the water. It can swim for up to 16 hours on a single charge and ‘eat’ as much as 1,100lbs of trash.
The device is developed by RanMarine, an environmental technology firm in the Netherlands, which hopes drones can become a meaningful tool for catching waste ‘before tide, wind and currents carry it out to the open ocean.’
WasteShark is now being deployed in Dubai Marina, a man-made canal city, after it was tested with local partner Ecocoast for the past year. The aquadrone takes its name from the Whale Shark, primarily in its wide-bodied design and vacuum-like mouth.
It can pick up things like plastic, floating debris and even ‘alien vegetation,’ or invasive plants. WasteShark can pick up trash that’s as deep as one foot below the surface. Once the trash is gathered, it’s delivered to a collection point.
Users steer the device with a remote control or an iPad and its movements are tracked by a GPS signal. WasteShark is also fitted with a collision-avoidance system that uses laser imaging to spot nearby objects and adjust its positioning if it senses one.
There’s a second model that’s equipped with Level 1 autonomy, which still requires human assistance, but it can complete some tasks on its own.
‘Inspired by nature and blending technology, form and function, the WasteShark is designed to swim through water and eat its prey with minimum effort and maximum efficiency,’ RanMarine explained. It’s also equipped with customizable sensors that can measure water quality. WasteShark looks for things like depth, salinity, chemical makeup, pH balance and temperature.
So far, WasteShark is being used to clean up trash from rivers, ports and marinas.
‘Our drones are designed to move through (a) water system, whether it’s around the perimeter or through the city itself,’ Oliver Cunningham, co-founder of RanMarine, told CNN.
‘The drones (are) that last line of defense between the city and the open ocean.’
WasteShark poses no threat to aquatic environments. The firm said it doesn’t harm fish or birds.
Prior to their deployment in Dubai, RanMarine tested four WasteSharks in the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands two years ago. It was also tested in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, swimming alongside Mr. Trash Wheel – the city’s trash interceptor. Depending on how it fares in Dubai, the firm expects to expand WasteShark further
HOW DAMAGING ARE PLASTIC BOTTLES?
Of 30 billion plastic bottles used by UK households each year, only 57 per cent are currently recycled. With half of these going to landfill, half of all plastic bottles that are recycled go to waste. Around 700,000 plastic bottles a day end up as litter. This is largely due to plastic wrapping around bottles that are non-recyclable.
Bottles are a major contributor to the increasing amount of plastic waste in the world’s oceans.
Researchers warned eight million tonnes of plastics currently find their way into the ocean every year – the equivalent of one truckload every minute.
The amount of plastic rubbish in the world’s oceans will outweigh fish by 2050 unless the world takes drastic action to further recycle, a report released in 2016 revealed.
At current rates, this will worsen to four truckloads per minute in 2050 and outstrip native life to become the largest mass inhabiting the oceans.
An overwhelming 95 per cent of plastic packaging – worth £65 – £92billion – is lost to the economy after a single use, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report stated.
And available research estimates that there are more than 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean today.
Plastic pollution is ruining the ecosystems of the world, both marine and terrestrial. It litters shorelines, snags animals and suffocates entire populations of animals
So much plastic is dumped into the sea each year that it would fill five carrier bags for every foot of coastline on the planet, scientists have warned.
More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
The only industrialized western country on the list of top 20 plastic polluters is the United States at No. 20.
The US and Europe are not mismanaging their collected waste, so the plastic trash coming from those countries is due to litter, researchers said.
While China is responsible for 2.4 million tons of plastic that makes its way into the ocean, nearly 28 percent of the world total, the United States contributes just 77,000 tons, which is less than one percent, according to the study published in the journal Science.
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