Today's oceans contain 26-66 million tons of waste, with approximately 94% located on the seafloor. So far, collection efforts have focused mostly on surface waste, with only a few local efforts to gather underwater waste, always using human divers. No solution exists that exploits autonomous robots for underwater litter collection; the SeaClear project will develop the first.
Horizon 2020 funded project SEarch, identificAtion and Collection of marine Litter with Autonomous Robots started its work on January 1, 2020. The consortium consists of 8 European partners and will last 4 years.
When fully operational, the SeaClear system aims to detect and classify underwater litter with 80% success rate, and collect it with a 90% success rate; all this at 70% reduced cost compared to divers. We will demonstrate these features in two case studies: one in port cleaning (with end-user Hamburg Port Authority), and the other in a touristic area (Dubrovnik -- with end-user DUNEA). Besides the two end-users, the consortium includes an SME supplying proven hardware for our platform; an experienced marine system integrator; and four academic institutions with complementary expertise in underwater and aerial robotics, sensing, mapping, and control.
The feasibility of SeaClear is completed by an exploitation and dissemination strategy that actively involves scientists, public and industry stakeholders, and Digital Innovation Hubs.