This Aquatic Robot Is Making a Meal Out of Marine Waste

RanMarine has created the world’s first autonomous marine robot. Utilizing drone technology, it can collect up to 500 kg of plastic waste and destructive biomass each day, harmoniously clearing up and monitoring our waters.

As WH Auden once said, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” Vital to all life on earth, our biosphere and everything living upon it would perish without it.

Despite water’s importance and our dependence on it, our continued pollution of it is putting this crucial resource at risk — our oceans are plagued by plastic to the tune of approximately 5.2 trillion macro and micro pieces, killing 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals each year; toxic algal blooms are becoming more frequent and deadly, with 400 marine dead zones worldwide; and contaminated water is killing an estimated 1.2 million people each year.

In an attempt to address the severity of the situation, Dutch tech startup RanMarine is on a mission to restore the marine environment to its natural state by cleaning up our waters. It has developed the world’s first marine robot specifically designed to eat marine waste and collect data on our polluted waterways. Inspired by the way in which whale sharks suck in food and filter out water, the company’s WasteShark autonomous surface vessel (ASV) is “taking a bite out of water pollution.”

The zero-emission WasteSharks use drone technology to vacuum up plastic waste and biomass. Each one can collect up to 500 kg of waste per day, with a battery capacity of 8 hours on one charge. They’re designed to be efficient, unobtrusive and harmonious with the environment.

“We are particularly proud of the fact that zero carbon is emitted while using the WasteShark,” RanMarine founder and CEO Richard Hardiman told Sustainable Brands®. “With batteries that can be charged from the local grid or powered by solar storage systems, the WasteShark leaves no oil slicks, emits no toxic fumes and is unobtrusive on the water. These attributes ensure that it is the perfect solution for working in environments where wildlife is present — it allows you to safely collect harmful biomass and waste remotely from the shore or quayside.”

The WasteSharks’ operational routes are predetermined by the user. They carry out these routes via GPS navigation and can return home at the end of their ‘shift.’ The manual WasteSharks are essentially drones that travel through water, rather than air. They use the same technology and camera systems as a typical flying drone — including a hand-held controller. The automated drones, on the other hand, use ROS software to manage the complexity of being autonomous and having to “think for themselves” whilst deployed.

Although a mission plan is set out by the user on our web portal, RanMarineConnect, the Sharks have to be able to navigate and avoid obstacles that may not have been there at the time of planning; typically these include moving boats, moored vessels or unplanned obstacles,” Hardiman explains. “Here, we use our own internal software to navigate the drone safely to make sure the WasteShark can still do its job without endangering or colliding with other vessels.”

Data collected from the WasteSharks is geo-tagged and time-stamped, providing an accurate picture of the water quality health within an area. This representation helps verify compliance with pollution regulations, identifies potential contaminants early to minimize the impact on the environment and creates cleaner aquatic environments.

Written by Scarlett Buckley and published in Substainable Brands

“The aquatic drones can also be configured with different sensors to help monitor temperature; depth; dissolved oxygen; turbidity; blue-green algae; crude, refined oils and more. Any data collected is immediately available for reporting and analysis through the WasteShark Data Portal,” Hardiman says.

The RanMarineConnect portal allows clients to upload collected data for their own research and analysis. In the future, the RanMarine team is hoping to develop a data-sharing platform between users; but this is still at a conceptual stage.

More than 40 WasteSharks have been deployed across the globe — including in DenmarkSingapore, the UKUSAustralia and South Korea. Some of WasteShark’s clients include well-known theme parks in Orlando; the Port of Houston, Texas; and United Nations projects in Lebanon.

Hardiman says RanMarine will launch a larger WasteShark in the next six months that is capable of removing 1 ton of waste in a single load; he anticipates it being commercially available by the end of the year.

“We are also developing a docking station which houses up to 5 WasteSharks at a time, empties their baskets automatically and recharges them,” he added, “making it a total autonomous solution where humans are only required for oversight.”

Drone WasteShark removes plastic waste and biomass

Autonomous surface vessel (ASV) WasteShark by company RanMarine Technology vacuums and cleans plastic waste and biomass from water bodies using drone technology. Modeled after a shark, the water vehicle-looking vacuum is designed to be deployed with preset mission routes on the user’s chosen waterbody. By selecting WasteShark’s operating route and predetermining its path, its user covers the region they require waste or data collection. The routes can be saved and re-run as often as needed, depending on the user. The ASV drone also uses GPS routes to navigate to the desired areas and to return home. Light detection and ranging system can be added to the device to avoid collision and enhanced data gathering from the environment. The company – which specializes in the design and development of industrial ASVs for ports, harbors, and other marine and water environments – says that the design of WasteShark allows it to be efficient, long-lived, non-threatening, and unobtrusive, with zero greenhouse and carbon emissions that alter climate change and in-house clean technology tools used for cleaning water. Because of these, the all-purpose waste and data collection ASV can be used in urban, rural, industrial, and leisure environments.
WasteShark has a 10-hour swim time, 5km range of run, and waypoint planning, and it can clear up to 500 kilos of debris per day, run for 3km/h and for six hours in autonomous mode. The company installed 4G technology into its ASV with a 3km radio-controlled guidance and two electric thrusters which it guarantees are mounted with RanMarine proprietary thruster guard technology. RanMarine Technology’s WasteShark is one of the many ASVs the company desires to create in the future to clear plastics, bio-waste, and other debris from waterways. It says that the data enablement of its products allows customers to closely monitor, in real-time, the environment and makeup of their water, producing an accurate picture of the water’s DNA to pinpoint any unquantified concerns. RanMarine Technology products are also designed to be used manually via an onshore operator or autonomously with online control and access such as WasteShark.
Read the full article by Design Boom on this link.

WasteShark – The Plastic Gobbling Water Robot to Debut at CES 2022

Article by Anna Flockett / Startups Magazine

Plastic Marine litter is one of the biggest threats to ocean life and humans. Now that there is more plastic in the water than fish, new solutions are desperately needed to radically reduce the harmful effects of microplastics. That’s why the Dutch startup RanMarine Technology is showing the WasteShark USV (Unmanned Surface Vessel) at CES 2022, a floating drone designed to remove harmful plastic waste from waters and return it to shore before it can do damage.

Every year, 8 million tons of toxic plastic leak into our oceans. The UN Environmental Program predicts that this number will triple to about 35 million tons per year by 2040. RanMarine Technology, a startup of CleanTech Robotics, has come up with a solution to eradicate this pollution. The company invented multiple floating drones to clear waterways, canals, rivers and ports of plastic before it leaks into the ocean. In addition, the company is introducing a new docking station, with which the drones can independently remove plastic for 24 hours a day.


The WasteShark is designed to intelligently harvest plastic and biomass waste from urban waterways in smart cities, ports and ports. In addition to waste harvesting the drone also collects critical water quality data. The drone can be controlled directly by an operator or used in Autonomous mode. In this latter scenario, users can set the route and mission remotely via an online dashboard.


With 180 liters (47.5 gallons) of capacity and an 8-hour runtime, this hardworking robot can remove 500kg (1100lb) of waste a day. The WasteShark is also easy to use and deploy. Using 4G onboard communications and an easy setup process, launching multiple drones has been made deliberately simple and easy for customers. Additionally, the drone uses advanced battery technology ensuring emission-free operation on the water, and not adding to the water’s pollution. This makes the WasteShark one of the solutions leading the way in the fight against plastic.


RanMarine will also introduce the SharkPod, the world’s first autonomous floating docking station for waste-clearing drones, at CES 2022. With the ability to deploy, dock and charge up to 5 WasteShark drones at any time, this latest tool in pollution-fighting technology will enable ports, harbors and cities to operate a 24-hour autonomous solution to remove floating waste from the water.

With the ability to remove 1 ton of waste per drone per day, RanMarine expects the SharkPod to be capable to remove up to 100 tons or more of debris and waste per month. With the prototype unit that will be deployed in 2022, among other places in the Port of Rotterdam, drones will be able to dock, discharge waste, recharge and redeploy on a continuous 24-hour basis: all from a centrally controlled online environment.


The brainchild of RanMarine founder and CEO Richard Hardiman: “We have an epic battle on our hands. Current technologies are simply not working, we need a modern approach to a modern problem, and for me robots and autonomous drones were an easy and simple answer. Of course it’s critical to create policies and strategies to stop plastic waste from entering our waterways as a primary strategy. Our WasteSharks offer a pragmatic solution for cleaning up the existing mess that is perpetuated on a daily basis, and effectively prevent waste from reaching the open ocean.”

“With the release of the SharkPod, we aim to see full time deployment of WasteSharks with zero emissions and greater and quicker capture of toxic plastics in our waterways”, says Hardiman. “With an ever-increasing plastic pollution challenge at hand, we need to reduce costs, increase capture rates and make these solutions ever more affordable and easier to deploy for every city and port globally.”


Meet WasteShark, the aquadrone taking a bite out of plastic waste

Meet WasteShark, the aquadrone taking a bite out of plastic waste
The WasteShark aquadrone

This article was adapted from the Climate Tech Weekly newsletter. Subscribe here.


Entrepreneur Richard Hardiman sketched the inspiration for his plastic-grabbing aquadrone, WasteShark, while sipping coffee outside near a South African waterway.

It was there he watched a boat crew cruise around the basin, scooping up empty water bottles and other debris with what amounted to a net you’d use to clean a swimming pool. “I kept wondering how I could do the job more efficiently. The idea wouldn’t go away for months,” he recalled in a conversation with me last week.

Roughly eight years later, after developing YouTube-inspired prototypes in his garage (yes, literally) using plumbing pipes and his phone as a remote control, the aquadrone that Hardiman describes as a “Roomba for water” is finding early customers both in European cities including Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and in U.S. cities such as Atlanta and Coral Gables, Florida.

Ultimately, robots play a part in going and getting the job done, as messy as it is, without complaining.

In its commercial form, WasteShark, sold by Hardiman’s startup RanMarine, is eating up plastics, biomass, algaes and other debris, such as coconuts. With the help of sensors and analytics software, its mission has also been expanded to applications such as water quality testing. About 70 percent of RanMarine’s business is with municipalities, but big companies — including Disney and Universal, which are using the technology in lakes at their resorts — are helping RanMarine explore more commercial applications. Its current revenue is about $1.18 million annually.

“We find most people who buy it are already into cleaning up and recycling,” Hardiman said. “They are already thinking in this frame and figuring out how to automate more of that work.”

How much can the WasteShark gobble up? Each unit has a swim time of about seven to eight hours, collecting about a half ton of garbage in a single shift before the aquadrone needs to be recharged. During that time, it can cover about 7.45 miles, or a couple of football fields in area, according to Hardiman. The price tag starts about $23,600.

Once a WasteShark’s appetite is sated, it can be returned to a docking station, a SharkPod, where the waste is unloaded. From there, it’s collected and processed as part of the company or city’s traditional waste management systems, Hardiman said.

The WasteShark in a waterway in Dordrecht, the Netherlands.

The WasteShark in a waterway in Dordrecht, the Netherlands.

RanMarine, based in Rotterdam, is planning a big U.S. push in 2022, with a big focus on Florida and Gulf states facing thorny clean-up challenges — a prototype for a larger “oilshark” that could potentially be used for spills and leaks is in progress. It could find a following in places such as Nigeria, given the nation’s history of spill associated with oil production, Hardiman said. Also in the works is a docking system that could make the units more fully autonomous — right now, they run via remote controls.

The money for all that research and development is coming from several backers. RanMarine’s initial funding came through an accelerator for the port of Rotterdam. It also is operating with a grant from the European Union and took an early-stage, bridge fund investment of about $590,000 from European venture capital firm Boundary Holdings.

Given that close to 8 million metric tons of waste are flowing into the ocean annually, Hardiman is under no illusion that one startup can alone solve the ocean plastic issue. “Before the trash gets into the ocean, we have a customer… If you start collecting trash in the ocean, no one lays claim,” he said.

And by addressing waste and debris in the waterways that dump into the open sea, RanMarine’s team hopes to take a bite out of the problem. “Ultimately, robots play a part in going and getting the job done, as messy as it is, without complaining,” he said. “Let humans get on with the job of making the planet better.”