Eco Sharks Set To Clean Up Rotterdam's Harbor

© Gert-Jan van den Broek/Flickr
© Gert-Jan van den Broek/Flickr
Photo of Tom Coggins
11 October 2016

A school of robotic sharks has been unleashed into Rotterdam‘s harbor. These mechanical leviathans have been pre-programmed to hunt down water-born trash and prey on the garbage that persistently clogs up the city’s waterways.

Like the rest of the Randstad, Rotterdam’s municipality is committed to technologically innovative urban management and has already green-lighted several unconventional projects that aim to rejuvenate the city – including an ingenious vacuum cleaner that sucks up smog.

Their newest, aquatic venture will target another equally important ecological issue, namely the noxious ‘plastic soup’ that floats beneath Rotterdam’s tidewaters.

Trash can easily make its way to the harbor and often travels through the city’s sewer system and drainpipes. After reaching the docklands, this garbage joins together to form a congealed mass of free-floating plastic that gets swept up by ships passing through Rotterdam. This means that waste regularly finds its way to the North Sea where it causes serious ecological damage.

To prevent this from happening, Rotterdam’s local government decided to reach out to RanMarine: a tech company that builds environmentally conscientious robots.

This firm is responsible for the metallic beasts in question and have aptly named their creations ‘WasteSharks.‘ These robots are equipped with enormous, gaping mouths that are designed to gobble up floating debris. After appeasing their appetites the sharks automatically return to the shoreline and deposit the waste that they have collected during their patrol. This garbage is then recycled, or sent to a refuge center where it can be disposed of properly.

Currently, four WasteSharks have been let loose by RanMarine and the company hopes to increase their number in the near future. In fact, these initial drones are the smallest species developed by the firm and, if successful, will be replaced by car-sized ‘Great Waste Sharks’ that can devour up to 5,000 kilograms of trash.

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