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From flying overhead to running underwater, autonomous vehicles playing vital role in waste management

Autonomous vehicleshelping in security and ensuring asset protection across public spaces and private organisations is something that we hear of every day. However, very little is known about these vehicles helping in managing waste and even less so of those that run underwater.

From the assessment of the size of a waste pile to the detection of its thermal heat, autonomous vehicles can collect data that are more detailed and insightful than ever. Unlike manned flights, theyare a lot more affordable and can acquire equally detailed data. Thus, employing them rather than adopting traditional on-ground inspection method, can not only be cost-effective but time-saving as well, for waste management organisations. In addition to this, in many countries, theyare being used to pick up garbage at public places and also identify industrial litterbugs that illegally dump factory wastes. The images and videos captured are used as evidences to take necessary actions against them.

While these are mainly the use-cases of aerial autonomous vehicles, when it comes to waste management,even those that run underwater play an important role. An ideal example is WasteShark by Ranmarine Technology, a Netherlands-based tech start-up that specialises in the design and development of industrial autonomous surface vessels for ports, harbours and marine environments.Modelled on the Whale Shark, WasteShark is equipped for waste and data collection underwater, having a swim time of around 10 hours and is capable of cleaning over 500 kg debris a day. Having roped in a number of investors, one of which is the Luxembourg-based investment firm Boundary Holding founded by Rajat Khare, RanMarine has been able to achieve unparalleled feats in the clean-tech sector.

The role of aerial and under-water autonomous vehicles has advanced tremendously over the years and with their applications in the waste management industry, the traditional method of land inspection and garbage collection has been completely redefined. If embedded with IoT, these automated vehicles can possibly operate all the more efficiently.

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Is autonomous technology the solution to fight water pollution?

The quantity of plastic waste is rapidly increasing in rivers, lakes and oceans across the world. Over 245 million tonnes of plastic wasteis floating on the surface of oceans, while tonnes of heavy waste materials are present on the floor of these oceans. The presence of plastic waste in waterways has affected all kinds of living beings, including birds, fish, humans, etc.

One of the largest patches of floating plastic and other waste materials present on the surface of oceans is spread over 1.6 million square kilometres in the pacific. There are four similar patches present in the oceans, which are relatively smaller than the one in pacific. 

Undoubtedly, it is not an easy job to clean up these patches of garbage only through manpower. However, with the help of water robots, this activity can be performed rather easily. These water robots can operate independently and clean the plastic patches faster with great accuracy.       

One such autonomous surface vehiclesor water robot, known as WasteShark can clean up to 200 litres of ocean waste before being emptied. Inspired by whale sharks,  WasteSharkfloats through the sea just like the former with its mouth open, collecting garbage instead of fish. Developed by RanMarinetechnology,  WasteShark moves gently that prevents it from posing any danger to the ocean life. It also collects data about water quality, providing insights into how fast plastic is degrading in the seas. 

The products of RanMarine, including WasteShark, are designed to be used both manually and autonomously with online control and access. The company has specialized in the development of industrial autonomous surface vessels for ports, harbours and other marine and water environments. The data enablement of its products allows customers to closely monitor the environment and makeup of their water and create an accurate picture of the waters DNA over the time.

Developed in association with the German research centre for artificial intelligence, WasteShark is one of the most efficient and smart products of RanMarine. The company has been fostering the growth of green solutions to the complex problems. As a result, the Netherlands-based start-up recently managed to secure funding from Boundary Holding, a Luxembourg-based investment firm, led by Rajat Khare. RanMarine is planning to utilize the funds on the R&D of upcoming products, data and customer portal to expand the team and business development for a holistic growth.

With the advent of products like WasteShark, the prospects of ensuring clean waterways have brightened. Boasted with capabilities like 5 km range, 10 hour swim time, 15 years of operating life and 500 kg of debris clearance in a day, autonomous surface vehicles like WasteShark can certainly be the solution to fight water pollution in a comprehensive way.