Sustainable development goals
  • Life below water
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About the project

The WasteShark is a drone that detects and removes plastic waste from the water surface of oceans. It is designed for the use in ports to counter polluted oceans. The main collaboration partners are the Dutch Start-up RanMarine and the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI).

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The WasteShark is an aqua-drone that removes plastic and other floating waste from the water surface. The plan is to catch thrash before it gets deeper into the ocean. The drone is shaped like a catamaran and can collect up to 350 kg of garbage at once. It is electrically powered and therefore produces no CO2 emissions. The device can run for 8 hours straight. 

The design and the prototype of the drone came from the Dutch start-up RanMarine (CEO Richard Hardiman). The German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) developed an autonomous docking system for the WasteShark as part of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology-funded activity "Autonomous Harbour Cleaning". Using DFKI algorithms, the drone can find its way back from the dock to a station where it can deposit the collected waste and recharge its batteries. Algorithms allow WasteShark to take the most efficient routes to collect waste, depending on weather and tide. The drone can be operated manually via a remote-control or fully automated. WasteShark has a built-in camera and is also able of taking measurements via sonar. The prototype was tested in the Maritime Exploration Hall of the DFKI in Bremen and in the real harbours of Bremen and Rotterdam. 

The WasteShark is currently in use in ports in Dubai, Cape Town, India and America. Geo-mapping ensures that it stays clear of shipping traffic. It is planned to further improve the WasteShark and develop the SharkPod to enable a total system solution for autonomous harbour cleaning in 2018.

One of the main targets for the UN SDG Life below Water is to reduce pollution of all kinds from land-based activities. Plastic waste in the oceans is a main environmental problem which the WasteShark effectively helps reduce.