How many times, looking at the images of the large plastic island in the middle of the ocean, have I felt like taking a kind of "aquatic vacuum cleaner" and cleaning everything up. It must be the same thing as Richard Hardiman thought before creating WasteShark, a "shark" robot capable of autonomously cleaning up surface pollution, such as plastic, debris or algae.
The inspiration for the design of this robot (we followed from the very first steps, 2 years ago) came right from the wide mouth of the whale shark, which engulfs everything in front of it.
How does WasteShark work?
WasteShark's functions are pretty simple. You charge it (it's powered by batteries) and put it in the water. With one charge it can work for 8-10 hours and travel up to 5km. At the end of the day, WasteShark can be said to be satisfied: his performance yields him the collection of up to 500 kg of debris, equivalent to about 21.000 plastic bottles.
In order not to miss anything, the robot also analyzes the quality of the water, collecting useful data for monitoring the evolution of the ecosystem, the state of pollution and even algal blooms. I'll do first (as always) to show you the video:
Permanent environmental service
Whenever WasteShark has a "full belly", the waste is returned to the ground where it is separated and recycled or disposed of responsibly. The robot can truly be a valuable ally in the fight against pollution.
Recently, the robot has been tested at Canary Wharf, the London financial center along the Thames, attended by 120.000 people every day for work or shopping. The high number of visitors makes it difficult to prevent coffee cups and plastic wrappers from ending up in the water, so WasteShark has come in handy.
A future full of friendly sharks
WasteShark represents an example of how technology can be inspired by nature (the best) to improve the planet. It is not the first "bishop" of the category (take a look to this, eg).
Of course, apart from the enthusiasm aroused by this innovative robot, it remains essential to tackle the problem of pollution at its root, reducing the production of single-use plastic and promoting greater environmental awareness.
But in the meantime, robot sharks like WasteShark can offer a valuable hand (or rather, a fin) to keep our seas a little cleaner.