Autonomous marine trash collector now tackles invasive weeds

Clearbot Autonomous Marine Trash Collector
The Class 3 Clearbot has an 8-hour battery, solar panels, 500 kg trash storage, and a cutter for removing invasive weeds. Images courtesy Clearbot

Clearbot, a pioneering company in autonomous marine trash collection, has expanded its fleet with the introduction of the Class 3 vessel. This new addition boasts increased onboard storage capacity and the potential for towed barge extensions, significantly enhancing its waste collection and invasive weed removal capabilities.

The inception of Clearbot can be traced back to two graduates from Hong Kong University, who sought to automate the labor-intensive task of cleaning floating waste from local waters. Their solution was a robotic vessel designed to navigate harbors, lakes, and canals, collecting floating debris through its open bow and depositing it in onboard bins for responsible disposal or recycling.

In mid-2021, the design received a visual update from gaming company Razer. Since then, numerous Clearbots have been deployed and are operational. The company has now taken a significant step forward with the launch of the Class 3 vessel in the North East Region of India.

The Class 3 vessel is designed to collect up to 200 kg (441 lb) of floating garbage per hour. It features an onboard storage capacity of 500 kg (1,100 lb), which can be extended to 1.5 tonnes with the addition of a towing barge. The vessel’s electric drive can reach an average speed of 3 knots (3.5 mph), powered by a 3-kWh battery pack that offers up to 8 hours of operation per charge. Additionally, the vessel is equipped with solar panels that can extend operational time by up to 4 hours in optimal conditions.

Clearbot Autonomous Marine Trash Collector Solar Panels
The Class 3 Clearbot’s 3-kWh battery offers 8 hours of use, extendable with rooftop solar panels.

Clearbot has also implemented a self-docking mechanism across its fleet, enabling the vessels to autonomously return to docking stations equipped with solar charging units for a top-up. The Class 3 Clearbot measures 4.04 x 2.3 x 1.68 meters (13.25 x 7.5 x 5.5 feet) and is equipped with a 1080p camera and LiDAR. It can be optionally fitted with anti-collision technology for fully autonomous operation.

The vessel utilizes a front-mounted conveyor to collect floating debris and features a specialized cutter for extracting invasive plants and weeds, such as hyacinth and duckweed. When on trash duty, the Class 3 vessel can cover up to 10,000 square meters (107,600 square feet) per day. However, its coverage area is reduced to 2,500 square meters (27,000 square feet) when engaged in weed removal.

Clearbot Autonomous Marine Trash Collector Invasive Weeds
The Class 3 Clearbot is equipped with a specialized cutter to effectively remove invasive weeds like hyacinth.

While the company has yet to announce the commercial availability of the Class 3 vessel, its introduction marks a significant milestone in the development of autonomous marine cleanup technology. The expansion of Clearbot’s fleet underscores its commitment to addressing the growing issue of waterway pollution and invasive species management.

Clearbot’s Class 3 vessel, with its advanced features and capabilities, stands as a promising solution for enhancing the efficiency of waterway cleanup operations. Its ability to operate autonomously and manage substantial amounts of waste and invasive plants makes it a valuable asset for environmental conservation efforts globally.

Source: Clearbot