Rotterdam Harbor will now have a new resident. Roughly the size of a car,‘Waste Shark’ will scour the harbor waters in search for the ever-present trash, and then “eat” it.
For a few years now, the city of Rotterdam has been looking into ways to lessen its impact on the environment. And given that the city has one of the largest ports it the world, it too was given special attention. Under the startup program PortXL, the port had been looking for and promoting new ideas to help make the place more sustainable. After the program’s first year, the authorities have signed a deal with a South African startup, RanMarine, in order to deploy their Waste Sharks into ints waters.
Rotterdam Harbor already has a drone resident, the AquasmartXL, which is a small unnamed vessel, equipped with a camera which allows it to see the water’s surface. And while this guy will be the eyes of the operation, the Waste Shark will be its mouth. Roughly the size of a car, it is capable of gorging on some 500 kilos (1100 pounds) of trash, right at the source. Since up to 90% of all waste in the oceans initially starts from urban areas, like Rotterdam.
Allard Castelein, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Rotterdam Authority said that the Rotterdam Port Authority is determined to explore all avenues of innovation, as stated in their operational philosophy.
“Innovation cannot be forced. However, you can create an environment in which innovation is likely to take place and be in line with the market,” he said.
“We support research in conjunction with universities, such as the Port Innovation Lab with the Delft University of Technology and of course our own Erasmus University in Rotterdam. And we collaborate with contests for students. In addition, we support Dutch start-ups that are relevant to the port, but we also scout worldwide via PortXL; the first accelerator that focuses on port start-ups on a global level.”
The contract requires four Waste Sharks to scour the waters for the next six months as part of a test run for the drones. They will operate in areas where it is too difficult, dangerous, or undesirable to use manned solutions. This includes under jetties, bridges, and other structures.