As a child growing up in the Florida Keys I can remember swimming in our canal and discovering the wildlife surrounding me. Triggerfish, seahorses, needlefish, horseshoe crabs, jellyfish, barracuda, you name it. In the canal walls, we would spot lobster and an occasional octopus. It was a great introduction to ocean life.
When we moved away, I still had those wonderful memories in my head, and I had definitely gotten “sand in my shoes”. When we traveled back to the Keys to sell our house in the early 1990s, I went swimming in the canal once again, but it was a distinctly different experience. The water was murky and there was no life to be found, besides a few sad looking minnows. Gone were all the fascinating creatures. All of this happened in the span of less than ten years.
These days, I have found my way back to the Florida Keys. I spend my free time introducing my children to the wonders of the ocean. We are out on the water whenever humanly possible. Our favorite thing to do is to kayak out to a little island and check out all the wildlife surrounding us. But, though it is beautiful and full of life, we always find plenty of plastic to bring home with us. It’s safe to say we are full-blown plastic patrol ocean guardians.
In just this small slice of the ocean where we live, we try to make whatever difference we can in the quality of the waters surrounding us. If it’s plastic, or any type of garbage, it is coming home with us to be properly disposed of. But we are just one family, and every year, eight million tons of toxic plastic leak into our oceans. What if there was a product that could remove the plastic on a much larger scale? Well, there is!
In this time of the 2021 Climate Change Conference (COP26), when global elites jet-set to Europe and attend their soirees and talk of making change in the world, it is just that – only talk. One company is bypassing the private jets and Champagne galas and actually doing something about the plastic in our oceans and waterways. Richard Hardiman, founder and CEO of RanMarine Technology, a Netherlands based USV (Unmanned Surface Vessels) company, has developed a water-borne drone that harvests plastic waste from the world’s ports, harbors, rivers and marinas in an effort to reduce the effects of plastic pollution on the Earth’s oceans. It is called the WasteShark.
The WasteShark has been exported globally to the USA, UAE, UK, Australia and South Africa. Added to the WasteShark’s ability to collect waste, RanMarine has now also pioneered the collection of live data from water-borne drones, to measure water health quality. With 180 liters (47.5 gallons) of capacity and an eight hour runtime, this hardworking robot can remove 500kg (1100lb) of waste a day. The WasteShark is also easy to use and deploy. Using 4G onboard communications and an easy setup process, launching multiple drones has been made deliberately simple and easy for customers. Additionally, the drone uses advanced battery technology ensuring emission-free operation on the water, and not adding to the water’s pollution. This makes the WasteShark one of the solutions leading the way in the fight against plastic.
The WasteShark can work both manually, operated with a remote, and fully autonomously. The autonomous WasteShark can detect when its battery is low and when its basket is full. It will then return to its docking station, or SharkPod. The WasteShark is equipped for collision avoidance, and is perfect for canals, ports and along waterlines where plastics inevitably meet the ocean. Currently there is one size available, and is not made for open-ocean navigation, but RanMarine is working on a larger WasteShark that can be used for this purpose.
RanMarine will be receiving the innovation award for the WasteShark and will also introduce the SharkPod, the world’s first autonomous floating docking station for waste-clearing drones, at CES 2022 in Las Vegas January 5-8. With the ability to deploy, dock and charge up to five WasteShark drones at any time, this latest tool in pollution-fighting technology will enable ports, harbors and cities to operate a twenty-four hour autonomous solution to remove floating waste from the water. With the ability to remove one ton of waste per drone per day, RanMarine expects the SharkPod to be capable of removing up to one hundred tons or more of debris and waste per month. With the prototype unit that will be deployed in 2022, drones will be able to dock, discharge waste, recharge and redeploy on a continuous twenty-four hour basis, all from a centrally controlled online environment.
You can watch the WasteShark in action here.
I don’t know about you, but I want one.