Fungus breaks down ocean plastic

A fungus living in the sea can break down the plastic polyethylene, provided it has first been exposed to UV radiation from sunlight. Researchers from, among others, NIOZ published their results in the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment. They expect that many more plastic degrading fungi are living in deeper parts of the ocean.

The fungus Parengyodontium album lives together with other marine microbes in thin layers on plastic litter in the ocean. Marine microbiologists from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) discovered that the fungus is capable of breaking down particles of the plastic polyethylene (PE), the most abundant of all plastics that have ended up in the ocean. The NIOZ researchers cooperated with colleagues from Utrecht University, the Ocean Cleanup Foundation and research institutes in Paris, Copenhagen and St Gallen, Switzerland. The finding allows the fungus to join a very short list of plastic-degrading marine fungi: only four species have been found to date. A larger number of bacteria was already known to be able to degrade plastic.

Follow the degradation process accurately

The researchers went to find the plastic degrading microbes in the hotspots of plastic pollution in the North Pacific Ocean. From the plastic litter collected, they isolated the marine fungus by growing it in the laboratory, on special plastics that contain labelled carbon. Lead author Annika Vaksmaa of NIOZ: “These so-called 13C isotopes remain traceable in the food chain. It is like a tag that enables us to follow where the carbon goes. We can then trace it in the degradation products.”

Vaksmaa is thrilled about the new finding: “What makes this research scientifically outstanding, is that we can quantify the degradation process.” In the laboratory, Vaksmaa and her team observed that the breakdown of PE by P. album occurs at a rate of about 0.05 per cent per day. “Our measurements also showed that the fungus doesn’t use much of the carbon coming from the PE when breaking it down. Most of the PE that P. album uses is converted into carbon dioxide, which the fungus excretes again.” AltThough CO2 is a greenhouse gas, this process is not something that might pose a new problem: the amount released by fungi is the same as the low amount humans release while breathing.

Only under the influence of UV

The presence of sunlight is essential for the fungus to use PE as an energy source, the researchers found. Vaksmaa: “In the lab, P. album only breaks down PE that has been exposed to UV-light at least for a short period of time. That means that in the ocean, the fungus can only degrade plastic that has been floating near the surface initially,” explains Vaksmaa. “It was already known that UV-light breaks down plastic by itself mechanically, but our results show that it also facilitates the biological plastic breakdown by marine fungi.”

Other fungi out there

As a large amount of different plastics sink into deeper layers before it is exposed to sunlight, P.album will not be able to break them all down. Vaksmaa expects that there are other, yet unknown, fungi out there that are degrading plastic as well, in deeper parts of the ocean. “Marine fungi can break down complex materials made of carbon. There are numerous amounts of marine fungi, so it is likely that in addition to the four species identified so far, other species also contribute to plastic degradation. There are still many questions about the dynamics of how plastic degradation takes place in deeper layers,” says Vaksmaa.

Plastic soup

Finding plastic-degrading organisms is urgent. Every year, humans produce more than 400 billion kilograms of plastic, and this is expected to have at least triple by the year 2060. Much of the plastic waste ends up in the sea: from the poles to the tropics, it floats around in surface waters, reaches greater depths at sea and eventually falls down on the seafloor.

Vaksmaa: “Large amounts of plastics end up in subtropical gyres, ring-shaped currents in oceans in which seawater is almost stationary. That means once the plastic has been carried there, it gets trapped there. Some 80 million kilograms of floating plastic have already accumulated in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre in the Pacific Ocean alone, which is only one of the six large gyres worldwide.”

RanMarine is dedicated to capturing floating waste and plastics from the water before they break down into microplastics.
The original article and the link to the full NIOZ scientific report can be found here

Autonomous Surface Vessels (ASVs) are revolutionising water pollution clean-ups

“In our pursuit of a cleaner, more sustainable future, battery-driven autonomous surface vessels (ASVs) are emerging as invaluable tools! They’re transforming water pollution clean-ups on a grand scale,”
Richard Hardiman, CEO of RanMarine.

Water pollution significantly threatens ecosystems, biodiversity and human health worldwide. From industrial or agricultural runoff to oil spills and plastic waste, pollutants contaminate water bodies, endangering aquatic life and compromising vital resources. Traditional clean-up methods often fall short due to limitations in workforce, resources and efficiency However, the rise of autonomous technology presents a game-changing opportunity to tackle this pressing and ever-growing issue.

Ports, Harbours And Marinas
All water bodies are impacted by pollution, but as busy centres of trade and travel, ports, harbours and marinas have become key locations that require attention to address their pollution concerns. Ports are hubs for global trade and are crucial for the world economy. Sadly, their operations often come at a significant cost to the environment, generating high pollution levels. Commercial and fishing harbours are notorious for leaking waste into surrounding seas. Plastic is a huge concern and requires regular removal to prevent its accumulation. Wind also poses a big challenge for harbours as it quickly and easily blows waste into the water.

RanMarine Has The Technology to Help
RanMarine Technology is a cleantech company that designs, manufactures and distributes emission-free ASVs such as the WasteShark, MegaShark, and soon-to-be-released OilShark. RanMarine’s Patrick Baransky was able to tell me more about what they do and how their technology is making a difference to pollution clean-up efforts. “We want to empower people and organisations to restore the aquatic environment back to its natural state. Our initiatives help to clear-up debris, plastic, algae and other biomass from water bodies. We combine this with water-quality data acquisition, with the overall aim of safeguarding aquatic ecosystems. RanMarine is perhaps best known for its robotic WasteShark. Inspired by the whale shark, which uses its broad mouth for filter feeding, this ASV houses a central waste collection basket between its hulls to scoop up floating rubbish. It is equipped with depth and temperature readings and an array of optional extra sensors for oxygen, pH and turbidity levels. The WasteShark was designed to reach areas that are tough to get to. It is small enough to fit into tight spaces yet big enough to make a difference!

The MegaShark is a scaled-up version of Waste Shark designed with a larger storage compartment to handle larger volumes of waste and biomass. Its size allows for extended operation periods without the need for frequent emptying. It is used in bigger water bodies and industrial areas where waste accumulation is more substantial, making it a perfect fit for ports, harbours, and marinas.
Excitingly, RanMarine is also in the advanced stages of research and development, with a goal of bringing the OilShark to fruition in 2024.
“Built on a platform similar to the MegaShark, this innovative vessel harnesses industry expertise to transform oil spill clean-up. Its optimal size allows for swift deployment and safe and sustainable resolution of oil spill challenges, particularly in harbours and ports due to engine or pump spillages.”

Digital Transformation: Providing Solutions to Big Issues
The modernisation of ports and harbours into digital hubs, often termed Port 4.0, has numerous benefits in addressing environmental concerns and advancing sustainability. Digital transformation also brings many other advantages: improved waste collection techniques, increased efficiency, accuracy, and safety. Digitalising port operations and introducing smart and clean energy operations minimises environmental impact, while IoT enables real-time data exchange and informed decision-making.
The WasteShark offers both remote-controlled operation and full robotic autonomy, minimising human intervention while performing waste collection and environmental monitoring tasks. This capability optimises operational efficiency, reduces costs and promotes cleaner port waters. Additionally, these agile vessels excel at navigating hard-to-reach areas in marinas, ports, or harbours, intercepting water pollution before it disperses into the open ocean.”
Using the RanMarine ASVs, ports and harbours can leverage customisable onboard sensors and cameras to gather data on waste accumulation patterns and water quality conditions. This data empowers port authorities to pinpoint pollution hotspots, prioritise clean-up efforts, and enact targeted interventions for maximum efficacy.

Scalability and adaptability are further benefits of this digital shift, as RanMarine’s ASVs can be integrated into existing port infrastructure. This flexibility allows for tailored responses to evolving waste management needs, ensuring continuous protection of marine ecosystems in a dynamic environment.

Where Will We Go From Here?
With global trade expected to continue growing, the environmental pressures associated with port activities are likely to intensify. Maritime users and boat owners are increasing, pushing up the number of marinas and people frequenting these facilities. Addressing these challenges will require concerted action from governments, industry stakeholders and individuals to develop and implement innovative solutions that balance the needs of maritime trade, recreation, and tourism with environmental sustainability. The pollution of ports, harbours and marinas represents a complex and pressing environmental issue with far-reaching consequences. As we navigate these waters, we must raise awareness and advocate for cleaner, more sustainable operations to protect the health of our planet and its inhabitants for generations to come.

Baransky was able to shed light on the situation further with some statistics:
The United Nations Environment Programme forecasts that plastic waste in aquatic ecosystems will almost triple, ranging from 8-15 billion kg annually in 2016 to an estimated 24-40 billion kg by 2040. Aggressive agricultural practices and nutrient runoff are fuelling an increase in Harmful Algal Blooms, adversely affecting marine ecology and economies. The National Academy of Sciences also reports approximately 4 million metric tons of oil entering global oceans annually from 2010 to 2019. The US Coast Guard estimates around 30,000 minor to moderate oil spills annually in the US, primarily from fuel bunkering and salvage operations, requiring legal protection and cleaning protocols in major ports and harbours.”
RanMarine is providing the technology to aid people in the digital transformation transition-harnessing the power of ASVs to keep our aquatic environments pollution-free. RanMarine’s technology already spans 27 countries, and they aim to achieve widespread global adoption within the next decade.

“Ultimately, our goal is for our Autonomous Surface Vessels to become as ubiquitous as robotic vacuum cleaners or street sweepers, Innovation, crafted for nature

To share the LinkedIn Story ⤵️

<Original story published by H2O Global
https://h2oglobalnews.com in their April 2024 edition. Written by Natasha Posnett>

Cleanup in EarthShare New Jersey: An Innovative Solution for Waterway Restoration

Water pollution is a pressing global issue that threatens ecosystems and human health. As pollution levels continue to rise, innovative technologies are being developed to combat this problem. One such technology is the RanMarine WasteShark, an aquatic drone designed to cleanup and remove floating debris from waterways. 

How the WasteShark Operates
The WasteShark aquadrone, developed by RanMarine Technology, operates akin to a water-based Roomba vacuum cleaner. With a capture basket capacity of 42 gallons, this coffee table-sized robotic drone demonstrates its remarkable capabilities by efficiently collecting and removing up to 1100 pounds of waste on a daily basis from diverse aquatic environments such as harbors, marinas, estuaries, and lakes. It excels in accessing small, hard-to-reach areas, ensuring that debris is effectively tackled in critical chokeholds. Whether operated manually through remote control or autonomously following a pre-programmed route using an online dashboard, the WasteShark’s adaptability guarantees highly effective and efficient cleaning operations.

Types of Debris Removed
The WasteShark is designed to combat various types of debris polluting our waterways. It targets floating debris or trash and even small plastic pollution, which poses a significant threat to marine life and water quality. Additionally, the WasteShark can remove unwanted biomass vegetation from the water surface. Harmful algal blooms release toxins that contaminate drinking water, causing illnesses for animals and humans.

Global Impact
The global impact of water pollution around the world can be greatly addressed by solutions like the WasteShark. Researchers estimate that 10,000 metric tonnes of waste enter the Great Lakes alone each year, with a significant portion being plastic. By efficiently removing this waste, WasteShark helps mitigate the harmful effects of anthropogenic debris on wildlife, drinking water, and public enjoyment of water resources. Its contribution to cleaner waterways positively impacts ecosystems and human well-being on a global scale.

Organizations Utilizing the WasteShark
One notable organization utilizing the WasteShark is PortsToronto. In partnership with RanMarine Technology, PortsToronto has launched a pilot program that introduced two WasteShark aquadrones, named Ebb and Flow, to the Toronto Harbour. As part of PortsToronto’s Trash Trapping Program, Ebb and Flow join the network of Seabins deployed to capture floating debris and small plastic pollution. This program is supported by a grant initiative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

PortsToronto’s Trash Trapping Program, in collaboration with the University of Toronto Trash Team and the International Trash Trap Network, recognizes the invaluable contribution of the WasteShark aquadrones in collecting vital data on the type, amount, and sources of debris in the Toronto Harbour and Lake Ontario. By utilizing the WasteSharks, PortsToronto can significantly enhance its trash-trapping capabilities and expand research efforts to gain a deeper understanding of plastic pollution and its effective mitigation strategies.

The RanMarine WasteShark represents an innovative solution for combating water pollution and the accumulation of debris in aquatic environments. Its ability to collect floating debris, small plastic pollution, and biomass has a significant global impact by improving water quality, preserving ecosystems, and safeguarding public health. Through the efforts of organizations such as PortsToronto, WasteShark contributes to data collection, research, and collaboration necessary to address water pollution on a larger scale. As the demand for sustainable and efficient cleaning technologies continues to grow, WasteShark offers hope in creating cleaner waterways worldwide.

Original article: https://www.earthsharenj.org/the-ranmarine-wasteshark-an-innovative-solution-for-waterway-cleanup/

IoT: Pioneering the Future of Aquatic Conservation in Partnership with Deutsche Telekom [Video]

VIDEO LINK> Explore the synergy between RanMarine and Deutsche Telekom IoT in our exclusive insight into the collaborative efforts reshaping the future of aquatic conservation. Discover how this innovative partnership merges RanMarine’s cutting-edge autonomous aquatic drones with Deutsche Telekom’s advanced technology solutions. Gain a behind-the-scenes look at the impactful initiatives driving sustainable change, tackling global water pollution, and preserving aquatic ecosystems. Join us in unveiling the transformative power of technology and environmental stewardship as we dive into the dialogue between two visionary forces shaping a cleaner, healthier world.

Robot shark

‘Robot shark’ from startup RanMarine collects waste from the canals of Zaandam: Rotterdam company is aiming for ’round of millions’ to conquer the US

Frequent visitors to the Zaandam city center will have already seen him: the so-called ‘Veulvreter’. Here, in the Gedempte Gracht, a small white boat sails once a week with an insatiable hunger for waste. Floating cans, chip trays, PET bottles: this mini-catamaran eats everything that we humans would rather lose than be rich.

The ‘Veulvreter’, as it is called in Zaandam, is actually called WasteShark. It is a creation of the Rotterdam company RanMarine (in full: RanMarine Technology). After a charge, the electrically powered boat can search the water for six hours for waste, according to a pre-programmed zigzagging pattern. As a result, the ‘robot shark’ can remove up to 500 kilograms of waste from the water per day, according to the startup.

Zaanstad was the second Dutch municipality to launch the WasteShark in December, after Dordrecht had previously conducted a successful trial with the device. It saves time for employees of the municipal waste service in Zaandam, as they no longer have to fiddle with fishing nets to retrieve discarded cans from the canal.

Esther Lokhorst stands bent over one of her robot sharks in an old industrial building on a business park in the Rotterdam industrial area Nieuw Methesse. The interior can be described as a potpourri of wires and chips. A team of four young men works on the hardware and Lokhorst, as operational director, keeps an eye on things.

A little further in the open air we find a small water bath, which was installed here by RanMarine. Even though the sun is shining seductively this Wednesday afternoon, people are not supposed to take a dip in it. The only bather allowed is the WasteShark, which Lokhorst and her team test here after every refinement of the technique.

RanMarine’s WasteShark makes a tour of the test pool in Rotterdam. In the background operational director Esther Lokhorst (left) and founder Richard Hardiman.Photo: Business Insider Netherlands/Jelmer Luimstra

Sensor-equipped drones

The boats are in fact drones equipped with GPS and two sensors. The sensors measure the water quality and depth and forward this information to an online portal of RanMarine. “If, for example, dredging is required, customers immediately gain insight into how deep the soil is,” says Lokhorst.

Her company supplies floating drones that work completely autonomously, but also robot boats that you can control remotely. The robot boat can not only grab plastic waste from the water, but also duckweed. The company is currently investigating in Helsinki whether it is also possible to rid the water of blue-green algae.

No, the robot sharks are not a danger to passing birds, Lokhorst says when asked when we take a seat in a deserted, industrial-looking company canteen. “The boats only sail three kilometers per hour,” says the director. “In our five years of existence, we have never caught a bird or even a fish.”

RanMarine has so far sold more than fifty of these types of boats to 25 customers, says Lokhorst. Many of those customers come from abroad. For example, robot boats from the startup are sailing in the port of Houston, in Dallas and in Plymouth in the UK. The company has customers worldwide: from South Africa to South Korea and from Nigeria to Ireland.

Typical customers are government institutions and water boards, but theme parks are also part of the regular customer base. For example, RanMarine supplies its robot boats to Disney and Universal parks in Florida, among others. “America is a very important market for us,” says Lokhorst. “We are therefore now setting up an American division. We already have employees in the US and want to expand considerably.”

In time, this should result in an American office, says Lokhorst when asked. When, she can’t say yet. “For the time being, we will keep production and development here in Rotterdam. If we scale up considerably in the US, we will also start an assembly department there.”

In the Netherlands, Zaandam and Dordrecht are currently the only municipalities to which RanMarine supplies its aquadrones. It sometimes turns out to be quite complicated to hook up with municipalities. “The municipality is not always responsible for cleaning up waste. Some municipalities outsource this to cleaning companies.”

Lokhorst does state that its sales team is busy hooking up more Dutch municipalities. RanMarine even expects to start a project in the Wadden Sea soon.

Operations director Esther Lokhorst (left) of RanMarine joined the company in 2017. To the right of its founder Richard Hardiman. Business Insider Netherlands/ Jelmer Luimstra

Film WALL-E provided inspiration

Lokhorst is not the founder of RanMarine. The company was founded in 2016 by South African Richard Hardiman, who worked as a radio DJ and journalist in a previous life.

Hardiman came up with the idea of ​​the garbage-eating robot shark when he was sitting on a terrace in Cape Town and saw people using a net to remove dirt from the water. There had to be an easier way, Hardiman thought. His mind wandered off to the film WALL-E, in which the leading role is played by a futuristic robot that collects and compresses waste.

A little further on, the bearded man in his forties is having a video call with a colleague from the US. Hardiman has been living in the Netherlands since 2020, where he saw more opportunities to succeed with his startup plan than in South Africa. He participated in a growth program of PortXL, a company affiliated with the port of Rotterdam, for which Lokhorst worked. She joined the then fledgling startup in 2017.

Now, six years later, the company already employs 23 people. RanMarine has been profitable since 2021, according to Lokhorst. The company does not share profit and turnover figures. From the most recent summary profit and loss account that the company filed with the Chamber of Commerce (KvK), it can be concluded that RamMarine closed 2021 with a positive equity capital of more than 7 tons.

RanMarine raised an unknown amount of growth financing twice in its existence. According to Lokhorst, a “serious round of millions” is planned for April. With the upcoming millions, RanMarine hopes to be able to grow faster, especially in the US. The company is also investing in the development of larger aquadrones and robot boats that can extract oil from the water.

Rapid growth also seems to be necessary. In 2019, RanMarine was the first party to market an aquadrone. The market is now busier, with competitors in France, China and the US. Nevertheless, Lokhorst does not see a major threat in this: “The market is large enough for several parties. The positive thing about more competition is that this technique will become better known as a way to remove rubbish from the water.”

Article written by Jelmer Luimstra of Business Insider Nederland

Feb 23, 2023

Best robots of CES 2023

Editor’s Picks: best robots of CES 2023

The consumer electronics show (CES) is the largest event for consumer product launches in the world. I had the opportunity to attend CES for the first time this year, and it was an overwhelming experience. With over 3,200 vendors, there is so much to see that it would be impossible for one person to see and experience everything. That’s where pre-event research is critical to distill the vendor list down to a manageable size. I wanted to see over 60 robot-related products at CES 2023, and I only had two days to do so.

Here’s a recap of my favorite robotic solutions at CES 2023 (in no particular order):

Waste Shark by RanMarine

I stumbled on the Waste Shark by RanMarine in the Netherlands innovation area of CES Eureka Park. This was the serendipitous part of my CES adventure. Waste Shark is an autonomous marine vehicle that is designed to navigate small waterways and clear plastics, bio-waste and other debris from the surface of the water. The robot is completely autonomous but takes its basic design from its larger manned sibling, the Tender Shark.

The primary use case for Waste Shark is to operate on contained bodies of either fresh or salt water.  Parks, golf courses and amusement parks are just a few of the potential application areas for Waste Shark. The robot needs to return to the dock or shoreline when it’s time to remove the debris from its internal trap. It is a simple process to remove the trash basket as it slides out of the front of the vehicle for emptying.

The robot monitors its forward speed and determines that the trash basket is full when there is a measurable drag on the forward motion of the vehicle. Waste Shark can operate in salt water, but due to its small size should be restricted to operation in contained harbors.

Enchanted Tools – Mirokai

If you went to CES 2023 but didn’t meet Mirokai, don’t go looking for the booth that wasn’t there. Enchanted Tools showed off Mirokai in a private suite to an exclusive group of people. I was lucky enough to secure an invite.

There’s a lot to like, and a lot to question about the future of Mirokai as a commercial solution. What I liked about Mirokai was the top-notch overall design, form and function of the robot. The Enchanted Tools designers and engineering team did a fantastic job in pulling the whole design concept together. I love the face, head and interactivity of Mirokai – it’s immediately engaging.

With an animated face, there’s no uncanny valley to cross, and you are immediately enthralled (some might say enchanted) by the eyes, mouth and voice. This robot is built kinematically around a ball-bot, and there hasn’t been a commercially successful implementation of a ball-bot yet. With a moveable torso, head and arms, Mirokai is more complex than the original ball-bot designs.

The beauty of the ball-bot is in its fluid motion across the floor, and this supports the illusion of the Mirokai character. The downside (in my opinion) is that a ball-bot is dynamically stable, and any small disruption to its balance, such as pushing on the head or pulling on an arm, requires that the robot respond to keep its balance. In an ideal world with flat surfaces, the ball-bot can maintain its balance. However, the cluttered house of an elderly owner is going to present challenges to the navigation paradigm and balance-keeping algorithms for this class of robot design.

Overall, I give Mirokai high marks for design implementation and interactivity. It is the most pleasing service robot that I’ve ever interacted with.

What was a little over the top in the product introduction, is the whole mythology behind the Miroko world and the Mirokai characters. Enchanted Tools is trying to make a whole new set of characters and bring them to life. To make a social robot for the elder care use case, you don’t need to know the whole origin story behind it.

The company has already shown that it can give Mirokai a persona that is charming and fun to talk to. If Mirokai is used for entertainment, the company still has a lot of work to do to make videos, books and games that fit with the mythology.

New Ottonomy Yeti robot

The Ottonomy Yeti Ottobot features a holonomic drive and an automatic package delivery option. | Credit: Ottonomy

Ottonomy demoed the new Ottobot Yeti last-mile delivery robot at CES 2023. This new platform includes an entirely new drive platform that includes holonomic motion using a four-wheel swerve drive. The cargo-carrying payload platform has also been redesigned to be larger and more robust. The payload area includes two cargo bays that open autonomously, to allow a patron to remove only their order.

Yeti also features an optional autonomous cargo drop door. This enables Yeti to autonomously move a package (i.e. a box) from inside the cargo bay, onto the ground or into a locker.

Ottonomy received an RBR50 Award in 2021, for its first delivery application deployment within the Cincinnati Airport. Since that first generation, Ottonomy has continued to expand the capabilities of the platform, and to enable indoor to outdoor navigation. This capability makes Ottobot one of the few AMRs capable of both indoor and outdoor navigation with the same platform. The company is targeting curbside delivery for both grocery and mall-based restaurants as the initial market for the robots.

aeo by Aeolus Robotics

Aeolus Robotics demoed the second generation of its aeo social robot at CES2023. This latest generation of aeo is a complete redo of the robot design from the original model. The robot still features two fully articulating and vision-guided manipulators (i.e. arms).

aeo can be equipped with a number of different end effectors. The primary gripper is a two-fingered gripper, useful for picking up items, and opening drawers and doors.

The company has also developed (and demoed) the following end effectors:

  • Two fingered gripper
  • Large, general area UV disinfecting light
  • Small, door handle UV disinfecting light
  • Interactive tablet
  • Interactive phone, tablet and printer

The primary use case for aeo is elder care, and the company has deployed a number of aeo gen 2 units into elder care facilities in Japan. With the new capability to ride an elevator, aeo can now be deployed into multilevel facilities.

BIM Printer

The BIM Printer robot features a mobile frame with an X/Y plotter-style print unit to paint BIM data onto the building floor. | Credit: BIM Printer

The construction robotics market has evolved quickly over the last five years. One of the companies on my CES hit list was BIM Printer, a French robotics company that hasn’t spent much time in the U.S. prior to this event.

Unfortunately, the company didn’t have a live demo at the booth, but I spent some time talking to co-founder Vincent Agie. The robot is currently being employed to lay out the interior floor space for tenants at the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world).

Unlike the other BIM information printers on the market, BIM consists of two robots: a movable AMR frame that indexes across the floor to position the base unit, combined with an X/Y plotter that paints the BIM data onto the floor. The other automated BIM marking solutions on the market leverage an AMR that paints BIM data as it moves across the floor.

BIM Printer has an accuracy of 2 mm (0.079″) and achieves this accuracy through the use of a total station to localize the position of the robot. The go-to-market for the company is through survey company partners and construction service companies.

The company is also introducing a BIM ceiling printer that can mark all of the construction details onto the ceiling. This data includes the placement of walls, ducting, water, electrical and other utilities.

Robosen transformer toy robot

What would CES be without toy robots? There were plenty of consumer robotic toys on display, but I’ve chosen to discuss my favorite robotic plaything. Robosen is more than just a toy, its product line includes a number of transforming robot characters that range in price from $300 to $1000.

The current star of the Robosen product line (more on that later) is the Elite Optimus Prime auto-converting and programmable robot. The product is officially licensed and designed in collaboration with Hasbro.

Optimus Prime Robot is an auto-converting, interactive, programmable, voice-activated, mobile-controlled robotic toy. Robosen brings Optimus Prime to life with a fully immersive experience through voice-activated actions, mobile app controls, and endless hours of creative and fun ways to program Optimus Prime to walk, punch, blast, drive, and convert at the swipe of your finger, or command of your voice.

Next on the Robosen product roadmap will be the release of a fully articulated Disney Pixar cobranded Buzz Lightyear robot. | Credit: The Robot Report

RobotSmith material finishing workstation

RobotSmith is a fully enclosed grinding and polishing solution that uses CAD data to drive the robot paths for material finishing. | Credit: The Robot Report

RobotSmith was another serendipitous discovery I made in the Taiwan section of CES Eureka Park. This robotic work cell is a true industrial robot application that leverages an industrial robot arm to grind and polish metal objects. It wasn’t what I would have expected to discover at CES.

I was impressed by the integration between CAD model data, force feedback and AI-driven path generation in the solution. Robot Smith uses the CAD model of a part and a simulation environment to generate the grinding and polishing path. Next, it uses vision guidance to pick up unfinished physical parts from a material tray, and take the item to the various grinding and polishing station as the item is worked to the desired final state of finish.

Third Wave autonomous warehouse fork truck

ThirdWave had a static demo unit in the Ouster booth at CES2023. Credit: The Robot Report

The final discovery worth highlighting from CES 2023 is Third Wave Automation. The company is developing an automated pallet-moving fork truck for use in warehouses. The bay area company didn’t have its own booth, but it had a nonmoving demo unit of its autonomous fork truck on display at the Ouster booth.

The company is using Ouster LiDAR for navigation and obstacle avoidance. The AMR has three operational modes: (1) manual; (2) remote operation; (3) fully autonomous operation. Third Wave has implemented a controls package and sensor array that can retrofit an existing fork truck. The company is initially working with a fork truck partner Clark, and has built a package for the NPX20 vehicle. This vehicle has a load capacity of 4000 lbs (1800 kg).

Third Wave instruments the fork truck with vision cameras, LiDAR and other sensors such that a remote operator in the Third Wave remote operations center can monitor the movement of the robot. If the robot detects an issue such as a misaligned pallet, or it loses localization, the remote operator is alerted to the situation. The operator can then either remotely pilot the robot to safe location or resolve the issue to put it back into autonomous operation. Or the remote operator can alert an on-site operator to the situation and enable them to take local control of the vehicle to resolve the issue. At any time, the robot can be switched from autonomous mode to manual mode so that it can be operated under human control.

This control paradigm is a unique differentiator as many of the competitors are either manual/autonomous or remote/autonomous or manual/remote, but this is one of the first solutions that I’ve seen with the three operational modalities.


Mike Oitzman

Mike Oitzman is Editor of WTWH’s Robotics Group and founder of the Mobile Robot Guide. Oitzman is a robotics industry veteran with 25-plus years of experience at various high-tech companies in the roles of marketing, sales and product management. He can be reached at moitzman@wtwhmedia.com.

Read the article on The Robot Report

RanMarine Technology shows first electric harvesting vessel to fight waterway pollution

Dutch scale-up RanMarine Technology says that debris intentionally or accidentally ends up in the world’s lakes, waterways, and other marine environments every day. There is no body of water that does not experience this problem, according to the company, with the unsightly debris being a threat to marine life, navigational safety, and human health. That’s why it developed products like the MegaShark, an electrically driven vessel shown at CES 2023 and designed to remove trash from waters and return it to shore before it can do damage.

Adding more detail to the growing problem, the company says that every year, 11 million metric tons of toxic plastic leak into oceans on top of the estimated 200 million metric tons that are already in the broader marine environments. The UN Environmental Program predicts that the former number will triple to about 35 million tons per year by 2040. With marine debris being one of the most widespread pollution problems facing the world’s oceans and waterways, according to the Marine Debris Program, new solutions are being sought globally to radically reduce the harmful effects of waste.

In response, RanMarine Technology created WasteShark, the world’s first commercially available marine drone that collects both waste and data from the world’s waterways. The brainchild of RanMarine founder and CEO Richard Hardiman, the WasteShark USV (unmanned surface vessel) has been designed to scoop harmful plastic waste from waterways, canals, rivers, and ports and return it to shore before it can do damage.

The company’s line of industrial remote controlled and autonomous “sharks” help government bodies and companies concerned with the economic, regulatory, and aesthetic impact of polluted water efficiently removes surface trash and biomass while preventing imbalances in their marine environments. Its multipurpose drones incorporating advanced AI are inspired by nature and restore waterways back to their natural state with zero emissions, limited noise, and a fraction of the investment compared to other methods.

“We have an epic battle on our hands,” said Hardiman, “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 WasteShark offers a pragmatic solution for cleaning up the existing mess that is perpetuated on a daily basis and effectively preventing waste from reaching the open ocean.”

The new and larger MegaShark highlighted at CES harvests waste from waterways using powerful suction jets to increase waste capture in difficult-to-reach chokeholds. An onboard trash compaction system makes it possible to collect larger amounts of waste per day. A MegaShark operator can manage the drone by standing or sitting on the vessel or operating it remotely. In addition to waste harvesting, the drone collects critical water quality data that can be immediately transmitted to a portal and available for reporting and analysis.

The drone has 8 h of electric running time thanks to advanced battery technology. A shallow draft gives the vessel less drag to improve efficiency and battery life.

Plans call for MegaShark to be part of a bigger RanMarine vehicle ecosystem.

The company will introduce the TenderShark, a versatile “mini” tender designed to carry light cargo loads efficiently and effectively from ship to shore, and vice-versa. It is engineered to transport loads in an environmental manner with an option to simultaneously collect floating waste, allowing all marine vessel operators to assist in cleanup.

Another “world first” from RanMarine is an autonomous floating docking station for waste-clearing drones. The SharkPod mothership can deploy, dock, and charge up to 5 WasteShark drones at any time. This latest tool in pollution-fighting technology can enable ports, harbors, and cities to operate a 24-h autonomous solution to remove floating water waste. It will be available for purchase in early 2023.

RanMarine’s customers are worldwide and made up of civic and commercial entities including the Port of Houston, Disney theme parks, Universal, and the United Nations.

The company is exhibiting at CES 2023 in Booth 55332.


CES 2023: MegaShark takes a bite out of marine trash

MegaShark gobbles up toxic plastic and marine litter.

Sharks are known for having stomachs of steel. The newest product from Dutch scale-up  RanMarine Technology is no exception.

One could describe the MegaShark as a robot vacuum for bodies of water. It’s a remotely piloted vessel that sits atop the water and scoots along with a wide-open mouth, sucking up debris and carting it back to shore.

The MegaShark hopes to tackle the ever-growing problem of polluted waterways, a particular concern here in Florida.

According to RanMarine Technology, there’s currently 200 million metric tons (approximately 220 U.S. tons) of toxic plastic in marine environments and another 11 million metric tons (or 12 U.S. tons) are added to the pile every year. The UN Environmental Program predicts the amount of new waste entering waterways will triple by 2040.

The MegaShark has an interesting digestive system too. According to RanMarine Technology, a startup of CleanTech Robotics, the seaworthy drone has an onboard trash compactor which allows it to scoop up as much waste as possible every time it hits the water.

The company said the device can be piloted remotely but is also hardy enough for users to sit or stand on it as it makes its rounds. The onboard battery will keep the MegaShark moving for about eight hours.

A bonus feature: The MegaShark packs all the necessary instruments for water quality analysis.

RanMarine plans to introduce two other “species” to its shark lineup.

The TenderShark is tailored to the boating community. The mini tender is able to carry light cargo loads efficiently and effectively from ship to shore, and vice versa. Users have the option to collect floating waste as the TenderShark makes its cargo runs.

Meanwhile, the SharkPod is what RanMarine describes as a “mothership” — it’s an autonomous floating docking station which can charge up to five WasteShark drones at a time. RanMarine said the solution will allow ports, harbors and cities to keep their drones chugging around the clock. The SharkPod will be available to purchase in early 2023.

Currently, RanMarine’s drones are sucking up garbage for the Port of Houston, Disney theme parks, Universal and the United Nations in addition to several other local and state authorities worldwide.

Read the article by Drew Wilson on Florida Politics

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

Interviews with Innovators – WasteShark: Continuously working to improve water quality

December 22, 2022

In the United States, South Korea, South Africa, Australia and various places in Europe, the innovative cleaning robot WasteShark is already being used to fish floating debris out of the water. Since last week, one has also been ‘swimming’  through the canals of Zaanstad , the first in the Netherlands. And that is striking, because RanMarine, the company behind the WasteShark, is located in Rotterdam. We interviewed the creator and CEO Richard Hardiman and the Dutch consultant Peter Kwakernaak about this smart cleaning robot and the plans that lie ahead.

Litter fishing

The idea for the WasteShark came to South African born and raised Hardiman in 2009 over a cup of coffee in Cape Town. “I had some spare time during my studies and went to get a cup of coffee at the V&A Waterfront. As I sat there I saw two men fishing garbage out of the waters of the harbour with a long net. They did it that way every day. I come from a family of engineers and immediately thought: ‘Surely there must be more efficient ways?’. My thoughts ran wild and I soon had the first ideas for a robot that fished up the litter in my head. I had no destination for it at the time, but the idea stuck in my head for a few years anyway. Eventually someone said to me: ‘if you don’t do anything with it, someone else will’.”


That was about the same time Boyan Slat drew attention to his ‘Ocean Cleanup’ and the problem of plastic in the oceans. This made it clear to Hardiman that there was a real need for cleaner water solutions to prevent microplastics from reaching the oceans. He decided to further develop his idea and build a prototype. “Once that was done, I thought it was time to start working with people who can do this much better than me,” says Hardiman with a laugh. In 2016, for example, he came into contact with the Port XL Accelerator program in Rotterdam. After a selection procedure, the innovation was further developed at the  RDM  site in Rotterdam with the help of experts and investors.

richard-hardiman-interview-waterrecreatie-nederland-wastesharkAbout three years ago, RanMarine went on its own two feet. It was decided to no longer work with external consultants, but to employ the developers in order to create more connection with the product. The company now employs about 25 people and is working on new models. An office in the United States (Florida) has also recently been opened.


On its own website, RanMarine describes the WasteShark as an ‘Autonomous Surface Vessel’ or ASV for short. The name refers to the whale shark -or Whale Shark-, which swims slowly on the surface water and eats plankton there. The WasteShark does the same thing, but with floating litter. It is a kind of catamaran with a basket between the floats in which the junk is collected. The hull is powered by two electric motors. There are two versions, a remote-controlled one and a ‘smarter’ one that can be programmed to keep an area clean without bumping into anything. A total of about 6 hours can be sailed, during which a maximum of 350 kilograms of waste can be ‘caught’. The WasteShark itself has a weight of 72 kilos and is small enough to be transported in a car.

“The idea has always been to catch ‘fresh plastic’ while it still floats on the surface. Then it is still quite easy to fish out of the water. Before it breaks into pieces or can become microplastic. It becomes more difficult if it disappears under water or is carried by the current to the sea.” says Hardiman. “We found out that one of the reasons there was so little waste disposal was because it was just a hassle. For example, if you need a boat to reach certain places. So we had to make that easier and we succeeded with the WasteShark.”

The WasteSharks don’t just fish waste out of the water. Especially in the United States, they are also used to remove excessive algae growth and thus contribute to better water quality. In addition, the WasteSharks can also collect data about water quality, such as acidity and temperature. Those interested can find a demonstration video of the WasteShark on YouTube .


There are now about 70 WasteSharks in operation worldwide, including at major parties such as Disney, the United Nations, Houston Harbor and the World Wildlife Fund. They are used in various places, such as amusement parks, (marina) harbours and nature reserves. Hardiman adds: “I have always had the feeling that we are really a Dutch company. But we just don’t have many customers here. That is the goal for the coming years, to have more WasteSharks swimming around in our own country”.


That is also one of the reasons that Peter Kwakernaak is connected. The two have a connection via South Africa, where Kwakernaak had a  guesthouse for a while  . Back in the Netherlands, the native Hagenaar had the desire to undertake more sustainable activities. “So I started helping Richard to further expand his network in the Netherlands. There was something very beautiful in Rotterdam, it cannot be that a pearl of Dutch  green tech  is Rotterdam’s best kept secret.” says Kwakernaak.

Expand in the Netherlands

Both do not see the fact that the roll-out in the Netherlands is not yet automatic as something negative. Hardiman: “The adoption of ‘ new-tech’  always takes time, especially in a more traditional sector such as the maritime sector. In other countries, such as the US, this is faster. I don’t see that as a bad thing, it ensures that everything here in the Netherlands remains nice and stable. So we have to let our products prove themselves, so that they will also be bought here. Zaanstad is a first example of this, we receive good feedback and data that we can also use for other cities. It is also not a product that you are immediately convinced of after reading the brochure, you have to see it for yourself. We will be organizing many demonstrations in the coming months, visiting trade fairs and this is how the WasteShark will have to prove itself.”

“Fortunately, we are already seeing that happen,” Kwakernaak adds. “A number of users have now opted to expand the ‘fleet’ and purchase more WasteSharks from RanMarine. That is of course a good sign. Together with an expansion of our portfolio, I see significant growth in the coming period.”


Kwakernaak sees many opportunities for what they call ‘sponsorships’ for a further expansion of the fleet. “You could also use the WaterShark as a floating advertising column for your branding , while cleaning the water in the meantime. For large brands that want to make a sustainable contribution, it becomes so attractive to really do something and at the same time bring their brand to the attention in a positive way. Or, for example, in combination with a water festival such as Amsterdam Pride, where the water is unintentionally polluted.”


When asked about the dream scenario for the future, Hardiman is clear: “My dream is that we can deploy zero-emission, battery-powered robots all over the world to contribute to clean water. In addition to fishing for waste, we can also take measurements and thus monitor the quality of the water. I dream that we will soon have thousands of them sailing around the world, collecting data. I hope the WasteSharks become as normal as the robot vacuum cleaners or robot lawnmowers. So that we are constantly working on improving water quality all over the world. At the same time, I am aware that this is only part of the solution. Fortunately, a lot is already being done to reduce the use of plastic and prevent pollution.

Kwakernaak adds: “We are currently working on a larger robot, the MegaShark. It is intended to be used in somewhat rougher water, possibly also at sea. We think that they can be put to good use there, for example for cleaning and taking measurements around wind farms. If you were to send a boat there now, the windmills would have to be stopped. With our unmanned  sharks that’s not necessary. In addition, we are now working on the ‘OilShark’, the concept of which has now been devised. This would allow us to clean up oil and other nautical fluids if they end up in the water. And what might be a nice dream for the future is that all large ships, for example superyachts and recreational users, have a WasteShark on board to help clean up the mess in the water or in the port where they moor and thus jointly bear the responsibility for clean water .”

Read the article by Waterrecreatie Nederland on link