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Waste Sharks in Britain’s Ocean City: a new technology to tackle floating plastic waste

robotic litter collector in a harbour

Plymouth City Council has released a couple of robot sharks, and they’re on the prowl for plastic and other litter in Plymouth’s harbours.

The Waste Sharks are state-of-the-art Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) that survey the surface of our seas, gobbling up litter, helping to keep our natural environment clean. They will be trialled first in Turnchapel and later on the Waterfront and Cattewater areas of The Sound.

Working in collaboration with Plymouth-based robotics and artificial intelligence expertise MSUBS and Marine AI, the project will look at adapting and enhancing the technology of the basic Waste Sharks to work autonomously moving around the water to where the plastic waste is collecting.

The University of Plymouth will bring their marine plastic pollution expertise to this project and will be helping to collect and analyse the waste consumed by Waste Sharks.

The Cattewater Harbour Commissioners have kindly agreed to trial the project in their waters and are keen to work with us on the education and awareness programme involving local schools and communities. Ideas for engagement include naming and painting competitions to helping with programming and trialling the sharks in the water using the new automation ROV technology.

Babcock have also purchased a Wasteshark which will be helping to collect plastic waste from waters around the dockyard, helping cut plastic pollution within the city.  Babcock are an active member of the Britain’s Ocean City, Plastic Task Force.

All partners involved in the various Waste Shark projects are actively working  together to share knowledge,  experience and expertise to help cut plastic pollution and positively contribute to the Climate Emergency Action Plan for Plymouth.