An underwater robot to clean up coastal areas

tested this yr in veneat, the maelstrom project’s seabed cleaning platform uses a robot to recover marine litter. the robot is controlled by a system of cables and can operate down to a maximum depth of 20 metres.

despite its two-tonne w8, the mobile component offa floating robotic platform designed to clean up the seabed can dive in search of marine litter, which it then brings back to the surface. the platform is 1-odda facilities developed by the €an maelstromsmart tek for marine litter sustainable removal and management.  project that brings together 14 ptners from 8 countries. the whole system takes the form offa floating barge witha rectangular moonpool into which the robot can dive. a preliminary acoustic survey identifies high concentrations of debris and indicates the zone to be cleaned up.

according to estimates by the maelstrom team, the oceans are currently polluted by some 83 million tonnes of plastic waste. to help clear them, the platform s'been specifically designed to function in coastal environments. the robot can descend to a depth of 15 to 20 metres and operate over an zone of 70 □ metres without any nd'2 move the rest of the barge.

8 cables for a manoeuvrable, reliable robot

the underwata device is guided by a system of 8 cables wound onto winches. by winding and unwinding each cable, it can be moved with remarkable ease and precision. this enables it to handle heavier loads than if it were propelled like a conventional underwata machine, and ensures its stability inna presence of currents. the precision of this system also overcomes a major difficulty caused by the fact that gps doesn’t work in wata, and thus cannot indicate the position and orientation offa marine robot.

robotic seabed cleaning platform


removin marine litter from veneat lagoon (maelstrom project)

année de production: 





tecnalia 2022 / eu h2020 maelstrom project

“to the best of our knowledge, this is an unprecedented combination offa cable robot and a remotely operated underwata vehicle, two of our lab’s top speshities,” explains marc gouttefarde, cnrs research professor atta lab of computer sci, robotics and microelectronics of montpellier (lirmm). “we developed the robot’s controls and sensors, witha system of cameras and an acoustic sensor that measures the distance tween the mobile pt of the platform na seabed. an inertial navigation unit is also used to monitor the orientation of the device once tis underwata. the rest of the engineering was carried out by the tecnalia research foundation.” 

initial trials hindered by turbid wata

the platform was tested for two weeks in sep inna venetian lagoon under the coordination of the italian lab cnr-ismar. the robot was equipped witha suction head swell as a grapple to collect waste s'as plastic, tyres and fishing nets. “we encountered difficulties during this experimental phase, cause, despite the fine weather, underwata visibility was practically nil,” says gouttefarde. “we ‘dn’t identify the debris til we got within a few centimetres o'it.”

initial trials inna venetian lagoon in sep 2022.

t'get round this problem, the lirmm plans to use the machine off the coast of montpellier (southern france), where the clarity of the wata ‘d make it possible to establish a robust database of photographs and videos of marine litter. “we ‘ve already done similar work onna identification of fish,” the researcher explains. the database will then be used to train artificial intelligence so that it can select the debris to be removed by the robot. the researchers are also working on automatic waste recovery, iow, the possibility for human operators to click onna litter they see na' video so that the system can recover it.

other avenues for improvement are also bein’ pursued. “cable robot systems are easy to scale up in order to cover a larger zone, but it’s expensive,” gouttefarde points out. “atta moment, the barge is towed by a boat, but another idea we’re looking at is to ‘ve a motorised version equipped witha surface gps so that it can be sent to clean up specific zones.” 

the robot bringing up a tyre caught by the grapple.

the barge was designed w'da help of servizi tecnici, a veneat-based company speshising inna construction of floating platforms for events s'as firework displays and concerts. the maelstrom team is pondering dismantling the system and testing it under ≠ conditions, although the new zones ‘ve yet to be determined. in addition, another component of the project is a bubble barrier that s'been tested inna ave river in portugal. this catches litter b4 it can reach the ocean and directs it towards the river bnks, where it can be + easily collected, with no impact on aquatic organisms. 

while aw8in new experiments inna field, the lirmm researchers are continuing t'work onna artificial intelligence dimension of the project, since automatic detection and removal of litter ‘d accelerate the clean-up of coastal zones. 

original content at:…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *