- Waste Shark, an autonomous water drone, is now cleaning Europe's waters in the Port of Rotterdam, as reported by Silicon Angle.
- The concept comes from the Netherlands-based company RanMarine and was funded by the Dutch accelerator Port XL. The solar-powered drone has an open mouth 35 centimeters below the water which can collect about 1,120 pounds of material before it's full.
- Four Waste Sharks will be on patrol for a six-month test period per RanMarine's contract with the Port of Rotterdam Authority.
Due to its position at the mouth of several major rivers, Rotterdam is one of the largest ports in Europe — which has led to a high volume of marine waste. In addition to the Waste Shark, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is also testing out a drone called AquaSmartXL which can monitor the area with a camera. Both drones are seen as especially useful for areas that are difficult for manned vessels to reach, such as under bridges or around jetties.
The Waste Shark can operate around the clock, take environmental measurements and learn more efficient routes over time. Like the Ocean Cleanup prototype, this idea was also inspired by the growing marine plastic crisis which has been seen as a priority by the Dutch government.
If the drones prove successful and can be made for a reasonable cost they could potentially be deployed by the thousands in coastal areas around the world. As demonstrated by Baltimore's popular water-powered collection wheel, the best place to start tackling marine plastic waste is at its source in harbors and canals.