There are approximately 26 to 66 million tons of trash in the oceans. More than 90 percent of this lies on the ocean floor. To date, underwater waste has only been collected by divers, making the effort and costs involved very high. Autonomous processes do not yet exist. In SeaClear and the follow-up project SeaClear2.0, the CML and project partners are developing a robotic solution that autonomously detects, classifies and collects underwater waste with a success rate of 80 percent.
To develop and test a hardware and software system consisting of unmanned underwater, surface and aerial vehicles. For this purpose, new methods in waste mapping, classification and robot control are applied. The autonomous robots are networked with each other and together, supported by aerial drones, search for litter in the sea. The seafloor pollution thus detected is mapped. The underwater robots collect the waste, using special sensors to distinguish between trash and marine vegetation, for example. SeaClear2.0will go beyond technological innovation and integrate cutting-edge technologies into a comprehensiveapproach that engages communities in finding solutions to marine litter pollution and contributes to science-based policymaking.
Role of the CML in SeaClear:
Autonomous surface and underwater vehicles represent an ever-growing area of research at the CML. The central tasks of the CML are the technical coordination and integration of the overall system. In this task area, the hardware and software infrastructure as well as the interfaces for data exchange between the robotic vehicles and a land control center are designed and implemented.
In SeaClear2.0, the CML focuses on developing the shuttle tender USV, which is responsible for depositing the collected garbage, and provides know-how for system integration and scaling.
SeaClear: A research team of eight partners from Germany, the Netherlands, Croatia, France and Romania.
SeaClear2.0: The consortium consists of 13 partners from 9 countries and a combination of expertise in public engagement, policy making, robot perception and control, artificial intelligence, marine and diving technology and operations, and waste separation and recycling: Delft University of Technology (Netherlands, project coordinator), Dunea Regional Agency (Croatia), Fraunhofer Gesellschaft (Germany), Hamburg Port Authority (Germany), Isotech (Cyprus), M. Danchor (Israel), Subsea Tech (France), Técnicas y Obras Subacuáticas (TECNOSUB) (Spain), Technical University of Munich (Germany), University of Dubrovnik (Croatia), Cluj-Napoca Technical University (Romania), Veolia (France), and Venice Lagoon Plastic Free (Italy).