Autonomous trash-gobbling robot boat wages war on waterway waste


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Have you ever looked out at a lake, river or harbor and been taken aback by the amount of floating trash and debris? A start-up company called Clear Robotics is tackling this environmental issue in an innovative way: with autonomous robot boats.

Clear Robotics was founded by two university graduates who wanted to automate the labor-intensive task of cleaning up floating waste from waterways. Their solution is the Clearbot, a robotic vessel that cruises through harbors, lakes and canals using its open bow to collect floating debris into onboard storage bins.

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1 Autonomous trash gobbling robo boats wage war on waterway waste

Clearbot (Clear Robotics) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Clear Robotics is expanding its fleet

Clear Robotics is now expanding its fleet with a new Class 3 autonomous marine vessel. This larger robot boat boasts five times the increased onboard storage capacity of 1.5 tons for collected trash and debris. It can also tow an additional barge, allowing for extended cleanup operations without needing to return to port as frequently.

Beyond just collecting floating waste, the new Class 3 vessel has been engineered to tackle another aquatic nuisance: invasive weeds. Its enhanced capabilities make it an even more powerful tool in the fight to keep local waters clean and healthy. In addition, it can be used in surveillance as it relates to water quality and even oil and foam collection.

2 Autonomous trash gobbling robo boats wage war on waterway waste

Clearbot (Clear Robotics) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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The new vessel’s increased capacity

The new vessel has been designed to gather up to 441 pounds of floating garbage per hour and has an onboard storage capacity of 1,100 pounds. Because it can be equipped with a towing barge, it can extend its per-trip payload, as mentioned above, to 1.5 tons.

Its electric drive can manage an average speed of 3.5 mph, while the 3-kWh battery pack is good for up to eight hours of per-charge operation. Clear Robotics has installed solar panels up top that can add extra hours in ideal conditions. The company also reports that it has rolled out a self-docking mechanism across its entire fleet so that its vessels can autonomously return to docking stations with a solar charging unit for a top-up.

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Clearbot (Clear Robotics) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Cutting-edge tech for cleaning and plant removal

The 13.25-by-7.5-by-5.5-foot Class 3 Clearbot features a 1080p camera and lidar and can be optioned with anti-collision smarts for fully autonomous operation. It features a conveyor in front to gather floating debris but is also equipped with a specialized cutter to extract invasive plants and weeds like hyacinths and duckweed.

If on trash duty, the vessel is reported to be capable of covering up to 107,600 square feet per day, though that’s reduced when snipping and removing weeds.

4 Autonomous trash gobbling robo boats wage war on waterway waste

Clearbot (Clear Robotics) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

IS THIS TECHNOLOGY THE ANSWER TO CLEANING UP OUR OCEAN’S PLASTIC PROBLEM?

Key autonomous features of the Class 3 Clearbot

Key features of Clear Robotics’ new Class 3 autonomous marine vessel Clearbot include:

Autonomous waypoint mission path: With Clearbot, you can provide a set of GPS waypoints (i.e., a set of latitude/longitude pairs) and have the robot autonomously navigate from its current location to each of the defined waypoints to collect trash.

Fail-safe return to home: Clearbot comes back to the Home Point if it happens to lose signal when connected to a remote controller or through Wi-Fi. With the RTH function, you can ensure safe marine operations even in larger water bodies.

Anti-collision software: Anti-collision detection helps you stop your Clearbot from moving and reverse its movement slightly when it detects something within a 45-foot radius around the boat when cleaning up trash and oil from marine environments.

AI-powered dashboard: Dashboards help Clearbot’s users monitor data-revealed emerging trends, track their operations and make informed decisions based on rigorous analysis.

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5 Autonomous trash gobbling robo boats wage war on waterway waste

Clearbot (Clear Robotics) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Clearbot’s new trash-cleaning partnership

Clearbot entered a partnership with Kingspan Group, which is a global leader in high-performance insulation and building envelope solutions, to begin sustainable cleaning of the Nonbah River in Nongstoin City in India. This demonstrates the real-world application and adoption of their autonomous trash collection technology.

6 Autonomous trash gobbling robo boat wages war on waterway waste

Clearbot (Clear Robotics) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Kurt’s key takeaways

The rise of autonomous robotic solutions like Clearbot represents a major step forward in tackling the enormous problem of marine pollution and waterway contamination. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies like AI, machine vision and self-driving capabilities, these systems can operate continuously with minimal human intervention to clear vast areas of floating debris, oil slicks and invasive vegetation. As the technology matures and costs come down, we could potentially see fleets of these trash goblins patrolling rivers, harbors and coastlines around the world, making a significant dent in the millions of tons of waste that ends up in our waterways each year.

Have you witnessed the impact of plastic pollution and floating debris in your local waterways? What innovative solutions would you like to see implemented to tackle this environmental issue? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

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