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Floating Drones inspired by whale sharks are the latest inventions designed to remove litter from oceans. There has been a growth in the number of tools to monitor, prevent and clean up ocean pollution over the last four years.
According to Nikoleta Bellou, a lead biologist at the Institute of Coastal Research Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, “Unfortunately more focus at a policy level is being given to banning single-use plastics. But we already have polluted the oceans and we need to do something to retrieve that, simultaneously to all the actions needed to reduce pollution at the source.”
World oceans are already contaminated with chemicals, fossil fuels, and plastics which can be found both on the surface as well as the both of the seas. Endangering marine wildlife such as seabirds, whales, fishes, and turtles.
Microplastics(tiny pieces of plastics) can make their way into their food chain, to eventually end up in human bodies.
According to the research around 91 million metric tons of litter has entered the oceans between 1990 and 2015, with nearly 87% of it being plastic. While nearly 5.25 trillion particles of litter are currently floating in the oceans.
The new research conducted by Nikoleta Bellou and his team analyzes a wide range of inventions and the challenges of scaling them up.
Earlier a number of solutions included sea garbage bins, giant plastic collecting barriers, and floating drones collecting floating garbage through a wide opening that mimics the mouths of whale sharks.
The BeachBot is a garbage collecting rover that picks up small litter like cigarette butts, single-use cutlery, or plastic bottle caps from beaches.
The BeachBot is designed by Martijn Lukaart and Edwin Bos with some help from the students at the University of Technology Delft in the Netherlands to develop an algorithm that teaches the robot to distinguish between types of trash.
According to Edwin Bos, “It’s nice to develop a robot solution, but that’s not the solution to the wider problem. Behavior needs to change and our goal is to make people interact and engage with the robot to make it smarter, but also to learn about the impact of litter themselves.”
The four-wheeled robots that resemble the Mars rover are deployed in several locations in the Netherlands. While the two entrepreneurs are ready to launch the product. The real challenge is to find the right business model to ensure the BeachBot not only cleans the ocean but also educates the public and changes their behaviors.
A lot needs to be done as far as ocean plastic pollution is concerned. The rate at which plastic is being produced is much more than the inventions. Going at this rate it will take around a century to remove 5% of plastics currently in the oceans using only clean-up devices.
Bellou added, “We have focused on what we see because what we see is what bothers us. But there are still so many gaps that need to be filled.”
Source: Nature Sustainability