WasteShark robot to clean Yorkshire canals and rivers

By Elizabeth Baines, @EKBaines, BBC News

A robotic drone is being used to clean up the waterways in Leeds.

The cutting-edge technology has been developed in the Netherlands and is the first of its kind to be used in Yorkshire in the UK, according to the Leeds Waterfront group.

The robot swims along waterways and can scoop up to 500kg of waste from the surface through a wide mouth, hence it being named the Waste Shark.

The chairman of the Leeds Waterfront Group Paul Ellison said the aim was to “enhance the rivers” in the city, which were often “forgotten about and neglected”.

Mr Ellison said the robot was inspired by a whale shark.

“That has a big wide mouth which it opens to feed, in the same way waste gets caught inside its mouth,” he said.

The drone, called a WasteShark, is powered by electric motors and directed via a remote control from the riverside.

It is equipped with GPS, collision avoidance technology and a camera.

“Everyone wants to see action being taken, waste collects in certain areas in Leeds and there is an amazing amount of wildlife in the river now,” Mr Ellison said.

“We want to prevent any of that being digested by wildlife and also to prevent the rubbish, and to prevent it going further beyond the city and out into the sea.”

He said weekly data would be collected to show how much waste is being removed from the water.

It will also record the types of waste being collected.

The project is also the first use of the technology to be approved by the Canal and Rivers Trust.

Becca Dent, from the charity, said it was important to work in “new” and “innovative ways” to remove litter from the waterways.

“It can be quite challenging, unfortunately millions of pieces of litter end up in our waterways.

“We’ve got birds that live along here, otters, and water voles.

“I’ve seen a moorhen trying to make a nest out of a trolley and crisp packets, so it’s really good to see the waste removed.”

Original story by the BBC > https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cy08y3zglklo