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The Waste Shark is a so­lar-pow­ered drone the size of a reg­u­lar pas­sen­ger car which could be about to trans­form the way in which the world tack­les the ever-grow­ing prob­lem of marine plas­tic de­bris.

In­vented by South African Richard Hardi­man, CEO of RanMarine, the shark fea­tures an open mouth set 35 cen­time­tres be­low the wa­ter sur­face which can col­lect around 500 kilo­grams of waste ma­te­rial be­fore it is full.

Two dif­fer­ent sizes of these de­vices are cur­rently tak­ing part in a six-month pilot project be­ing run by the Port of Rot­ter­dam Author­ity in the Nether­lands.

The sharks, which can be de­ployed 24 hours a day, be­come more ef­fi­cient as they skim the sur­face of the wa­ter, ab­sorb­ing in­for­ma­tion about each en­vi­ron­ment they work in thanks to the use of on-board sen­sors and cam­eras.

All rub­bish col­lected is passed on to re­cy­cling and waste man­age­ment part­ners for pro­cess­ing. Be­cause of its lo­ca­tion at the mouth of sev­eral ma­jor rivers, Rot­ter­dam at­tracts par­tic­u­larly high vol­umes of marine waste which au­thor­i­ties are keen to cap­ture be­fore it is washed out by the tide into the open sea.

The shark can more eas­ily reach ar­eas around jet­ties and un­der bridges than con­ven­tional manned ves­sels.

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