The plastic-eating ‘robot shark’ cleaning up the River Thames

A robotic shark that gobbles up plastic waste has been let loose in London’s docklands, to clean up the water by removing the equivalent of more than 22,700 plastic bottles per day, according to its developers.

The battery-powered electric catamaran, called WasteShark, can travel up to 5km through water before needing a recharge and collect up to 500kg of plastic and other pollutants as it guides itself through the water.

“WasteShark is a drone on water and it’s designed to sweep the surface of the water and collect trash, debris, biomass out of the water and return it back to land,” Richard Hardiman, CEO and founder of WasteShark’s makers RanMarine said as he watched one of his devices in the water in Canary Wharf.

WasteShark produces no carbon, noise or light pollution as it travels, and poses no threat to wildlife.

It is designed to rid waterways of plastic waste and make sure the plastic collected is recycled and reused.

“We have two versions, one that can be remotely controlled and one that is autonomous, very similar to a vacuum cleaner you might have at home,” Hardiman said.

“The idea is on the autonomous mode that it acts as a drone. So it literally sweeps around the water. You can go and do your job, come back and it should be full and you empty it and then you put it back in,” he said.

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The machines also collect data on water quality as they travel, sending back readings on turbidity, salinity, temperature, pH balance, and depth of the water.

Published by RTE