Trash-Collecting Robot Boats
We have a serious trash problem. The Pacific Ocean has amassed enough waste to cover the state of Texas twice (aka the Great Pacific Garbage Patch), and since it’s all floating around the ocean, there’s no way to take part in cleanup unless you own a yacht. Where’s Wall-E when you need him? Turns out, not that far away.
Over the last few years, the idea of the cleanup vessel has gained some traction, resulting in boats like this that roam waterways picking up trash on nothing but solar energy. Even bigger prototypes are set to launch in just a couple more years.
Some of them are robots, others need a crew, but all of them are taking a stab at cleaning our rivers and oceans. Can any of them do it? Time will tell, but there’s another takeaway from these boats, which is the self-sustaining technology they prove possible.
Everything Is a Perpetual Motion Machine
“It’d be nice if the sun produced more light,” said no one ever.
Here’s this orb that blasts the planet with energy every day, yet we don’t constantly harness the energy. Why? It’s simple: oil companies have nightmares about solar stealing their market share. Since solar energy offers the best and cheapest closed loop option for reliable, sustainable power, fossil fuel lobbies pour millions of dollars into keeping it off the market. Slowly though, that dam is cracking.
Solar energy allows boats like these to keep going, solving concerns about ongoing or energy intensive processes that were expensive to maintain in the past. Desalination, for example, is often questioned as a viable solution due to its heavy energy requirements. But with fossil fuels out of the picture, there’s really no question that it’s worth pursuing.
Self-sustaining boats show that there’s really no limit to what we can do by shifting away from fossil fuels.
With solar-powered boats taking a stab at our waste problem, the next thing to worry about is what to do with everything we collect. There are pebbles showing up made entirely of plastic, making it tough to distinguish them from regular ones. We need to take care of all this waste before it’s fully absorbed into Earth’s ecosystem.
For the moment though, it’s nice to see robots doing something to fight climate change instead of just taking peoples’ jobs.