The system could stay underwater for two weeks, sipping tiny plastic shards and entire plastic bottles. As its batteries drain, it can return to an ocean base, where human crews will haul it up and empty the plastic for recycling. The project is a response to a challenge from France-based environmental services firm Veolia, which asked students to come up with ways to tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Ahovi, Adrien Lefebvre and fellow students developed several schematics, including a concept that looks much like a whale shark. The main iteration is more cylindrical.
Along with cleaning the oceans, the trash drone could yield profits for companies seeking to reduce petroleum use and recycle plastics, Ahovi says. Unless someone builds an island out of the Pacific patch, this cleanup concept could be a real solution.