Images via JDF International Design Competition
What might happen with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch if we were to sic an army of robot ocean scrubbers on them? This concept by Chinese industrial designer Ye Yao just might be the start of that very possibility. It's a robot that could detect the difference between trash, fish and oil, and clean up the junk from the open seas. The WatCleaner is equiped with detectors so it can find flotsam and oil to clean. It has oil-absorbat socks stored in its top, and can suck in garbage that is sent to its disintegrator, blowing out excess water like a whale. It swims and cleans until being periodically picked up for its own cleaning by human counterparts.
The designer doesn't note how it would be powered, but we suspect if it's a surface floater, solar would be ideal.
The concept has been floating around (har har) for the last couple years, getting recognition by winning an "Excellent Works" designation in the 2007 Japan Design Foundation International Design Competition. Though the design has been praised, it doesn't look to be near reality...yet.
This kind of auto-ocean-cleanup-device is certainly not off the table, especially as awareness about trash patches in the ocean grows. Researchers are already testing out ways to gather and recycle the plastics making up the murky soup in the Pacific.
Via Blue Living Ideas
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