Shark Drones Clean up the Port of Rotterdam

Mathilde Nakken
September 20th 2016

While the The Ocean Cleanup team is trying to filter the smallest particles of plastic out of the ocean, in the port of Rotterdam you might be able to cross a floating Waste Shark; a drone able to collect up to 500 kilos of trash; one of the two newest innovations in the harbor.

To collect as much trash as possible the Waste Shark has the size of a car and is hanging from 35 centimeters beneath the water surface. The main goal is to catch as much waste as possible, before it is washed out in the sea. The system works completely autonomous, and it goes back to its station once it is filled with trash, like a vacuum cleaner. It is even able to remember which routes contained more rubbish, so it returns to this route regularly. In the coming months, four waste sharks are going to be tested on the field.

Patrols in the port of Rotterdam used to be done by manned boats, but now they have a new colleague: the Auqasmart XL, a water drone with a camera that collects realtime videos of the water surface. It costs less fuel and can easily reach difficult spots, like bridges or small piers. All the gathered information are sent to the shore, where the driver of the drone can inspect the port from his chair.

These two tests are part of a bigger set of innovations in the port of Rotterdam. With the regular introduction of new systems, the Dutch city is striving to become the biggest port in Europe. However, the port experienced the downside of these developments when in 2015 the dockworkers called a strike against the automation of their job.

When we speak about drones, we mostly think about them up in the air, fulfilling all kinds of functions, from farming to weather control. Though our oceans and waters are often as unreachable as our airspace. Water drones are therefore just as interesting as aerial drones, the Aquasmart XL and the Water Shark are standing at the start of a whole new set of wet innovations.

Source: Port of Rotterdam

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