This robotic 'shark' gobbles up 21,000 waste bottles a day from rivers
There’s a new shark in the water, but this one wants to clean up trash, not prey on fish.
According to a report by Euronews published on Thursday, it was invented by Richard Hardiman and his company Ran Marine after seeing two men struggle to catch waste from their boat in his home city of Cape Town, South Africa.
“They were cleaning a little bit of waste in one area, and the wind was blowing everything out of the way. It looked, to me, extremely ineffective,” told the news outlet Hardiman.
The new device is called the WasteShark, and it is inspired by a whale shark’s large mouth, which gobbles up whatever is in front of it. It has the capacity to ingest 21,000 waste bottles a day.
“I liken it to a Roomba for water. It's an autonomous machine that scoops up pollution out of water on the surface level.”
“That pollution could be plastic or any debris or biomass like algae,” Hardiman further said.
However, before you think this machine might creep up on you in the nearest beach, it should be noted that for now, the WasteShark has only been deployed in London’s Canary Wharf.
Located on London’s River Thames, this region receives 120,000 people every day to work or shop there. The area is managed by the Canary Wharf Group, which has spearheaded many initiatives to reduce single-use plastics.
However, despite their best efforts, coffee cups and lunch wrappers still end up in the water.
An environmentally friendly solution
The WasteShark is ideal for tackling that kind of pollution as it is also eco-friendly.
“The way we designed the WasteShark was that it was zero impact on the environment that it's working in,” said Hardiman.
“You'll see a lot of boats that go out, and clean are normally diesel-powered or mechanically powered so there's a bit of oil and pollution going back into the water while they're cleaning,” he noted.
This is because WasteShark is completely electric. It is also quiet enough that it doesn’t interfere with wildlife.
“Ducks and swans swim away from it. We're not fast enough to catch fish. So it really is a low-impact solution to remove pollution out of the water," Hardiman told Euronews.
The project is reminiscent of the Ocean Clean Up, another initiative currently cleaning up our oceans. This project does what the WaterShark does but on a much larger scale.
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