Let's Make Robots!

Idea for Challenge? (Much needed!) (saving the fishies!)

I don't know what gave me the idea.. lol, I remember watching a video about this a while back.. but just remembered it today out of the blue.

 

Basically, it'd need to be small scaled for now, but maybe ideas for the future companies! (and/or countries!) But I can't believe it's seriously gotten to this point... a garbage patch bigger than the size of Texas, in the Pacific Ocean! They find fish and birds as well, their stomaches full of the plastic they ate. (I mean, FULL.. it's more plastic than meat inside of the fish!) But anyways..onto the "Idea":

An aquatic robot, whether autonomous or remote controlled, that has the ability to scoop garbage and sift/filter/not sure  and vacuum the garbage to a container, or sorting dock to be checked for fish to be thrown back etc. 

  Of course, we're trying to help SAVE the environment (at least part of it), and not kill all the fishies as we're cleaning up!:)

Here's an example of an Albatross.. a HUGE bird, the plastic they mistake for food and eat.

garbagepatchalbatross.jpg

 And here's just an example.. I'm not sure if this in the gyre itself.. but was compared to how bad it is. (They said the Gyre is much worse than this)

plastic1.jpg

Ideas for garbage collection:

Initial thought..  A net. Of course, fine enough to filter alot of the broken plastic (which is as small as some plankton) but of course.. we can't get it all, the more the merrier!

Second thought.. A vacuum. And filter the water that's coming through.. much like those huge ships they use to move sand in the oceans.. suck the sand up and fill it's hull with sand.  A video below shows the basic idea.. but for garbage! (second video)

Third thought.. A dredge. (or huge shovel) but this seems like the most.. time consuming, but possibly the safest (for the fishies!) (Third video)

Fourth thought.. Giant bucket. (or huge blanket type thing, maybe even a filter) For example, like they use on Helicopters when they're fighting fires.. have the huge loads of water on the bottom.   But instead of picking up all the water, have it finely filtered, and drop it in the "sorting area" to try sort out the wildlife. (here's a link of what I'm talkin about, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicopter_bucket)

Fifth thought.. [[YOUR IDEA HERE]]. This is where WE (the WORLD) needs you.. I'm sure all these have already been thought up.. and looked at as possible ideas.. But we're a smart bunch of... smart people! I think we could come up with some awful good ideas!

 

I'm not really sure how to make it a "competition"   but maybe a "Group Project".. or you could set up a little pool in your backyard or bathroom, haha.. get some (FAKE) fish and try out some ideas. (DO NOT use Goldfish either, they're a mess! :D Not sure how to emulate the garbage.. maybe just some small pieces of paper, or broken up styrofoam cup. But hey, ideas are good too!

Of course, it may not be the "Problem Solver", it will take ALOT more than just some robots/ships/whatever you want to call them.. but one thing at a time!

(Robots that can crush and sort plastics maybe to help recycle better? Anything works!)

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This is a great idea and I love how it involves the LMR helping the planet and using their skills to help the world. I agree with voodoobot... the best way is to prevent it from happening. Here in australia we have recently banned giving out plastic bags at shops. You either have to bring your own "green" bags( reusable bags made of material ) or buy them at the store or buy biodegradable plastic bags for about 10cents. I think this really helps solve some of the issues said here ( but long overdue ) and I hope other countries follow suit
That is great, i did not know Australia had done that. The rest of us need to follow.

patrick, the resistance to banning plastic bags in australia was simply breathtaking. "what will I line my rubbish bin with now?" what the facepalmingly often cry!.. yes, they really did say this. (edit: I'm australian, so I can say this without appearing arrogant..I hope).

In japan (or at least in the local stores) they charge about 5c for a bag.. but it's a pretty heavy duty bag.

 

oh, and my latest creation uses CLOTH nappies, none of THAT kid's plastic poo-catchers are going to end up in the gyre!!

 

 

back to on-topic. Captain Obvious, the movie you might be thinking of is called "addicted to plastic"? it's a GREAT documentary apparently (Ive not had time to see it yet), and the producer is Ian Connacher a very nice guy who is more than happy to get to know you. He sent us a copy of the DVD for an exchange.

 so - perhaps a nice way to see what kind of conditions the robot might be expected to encounter would be to get in touch with Ian, see what he might suggest would be practical - ask somone who's an expert, and who's been there?  

I think the concept of a slow-movng (read "low energy consumption") but LARGE kind of vaccum vessel would be good, but trying to sort the plastic from the wildlife would be a nightmare to automate. While I agree that the problem is PRESENT addition to plastic, I also agree that it seems .... unrealistic to expect humanity to simply stop using plastic very quickly.. or even slowly...

Ok let me restate what I meant :) They've banned plastic shopping bags from being given out at supermarkets and stores to hold your groceries and purchased items, you can still buy rabbish bags :P hehe but its still a huge step forward as so many plastic bags were given out at stores and never reused.

 

Its actually funny to think about it, but "changes" the governments are claiming they want to make to change the world could've been changed years ago and solved this problem before it happened! Back in the 80's they released a few electirc cars in America( and probably else where ) I think they were mainly sports cars... say the government didn't have huge resources and shares in oil we'd probably all be driving around in cheaply run and awesome electric cars... the technology would have advanced greatly... but soon after the electric cars arrival on the market it was shortly wiped out! Only to come back into the market in the last 5 or so years! Companies trying to make the cars more "economical" yet we had a solution almost 3 decades ago! Sadly the world we live in is run by money and greed and corrupt governments which in the end will be the demise of the earth

Yeah.. of course.. to SOLVE a problem, you'd need to get the problem out of the way...  but the chances of humans as a whole to all the sudden just... fix every problem they have whether it be littering, or a garbage dump that's not really "secure" and garbage escapes fairly easy into the ocean.. floats off to the gyre.

I'm afraid it's going to take much more than just "using biodegradable bags" and such! All though, there was some kid that came up with (I'm not sure what it is..) I think some kind of mold or something, that literally feeds on plastic from plastic bags... it consumes the plastic bags, but I'm not sure what happens afterwards.

 

The reason I think this is a worthy challenge.. because sooner or later... at least that part of the Ocean is going to need human intervention! The last thing you want.. is going to an expensive restaurant and order a $100 meal with some uber sexy fish.. and you cut into it.. and take a huge bite.. Only to find out you've got a pieces of plastic bags lodged in your throat.

 

I don't think only getting the garabe in and out will be a challenge.. but also, the ability to actually manuever in the garbage.. considering it goes down in the water about 10 feet.. most propellers would just help tear apart the garbage.. and probably make it worse!

I like the idea Electric.. I was thinking a "hovercraft".. but worried about like, an "iceburg effect", where a piece of garbage is sticking up out of the water... and ends up being like 25 feet long, and tredging over that with inflatables is just asking to be puncture. Your picture reminded me of the "stealth boat" or whatever you want to call it.. same kind of idea, but much bigger.. and it's stealthy (not needed for garbage clean up, haha.)  Seems like just 2 fins (lol, fins sound good?) in the water would be good.. probably easier to manuever.

yeah, thats true. But it's still fun to build bots anyway.
As usual, the best way to solve this problem is to prevent it from happening, the cleanup is just part of the bigger picture. By pushing to not use plastic bags, instead use biodegradable and reusable bags we all can help... 

Edit:whoops double post.

I have an idea for this challenge/project. Basically it would be small robot that floats on top of the water with two rudders powered by a motor with propellers on a servo for propulsion. The propulsion system would be a lot like this: http://letsmakerobots.com/node/16025. A servo at the front mounted with a sensor would scan for small pieces of trash (E.G. a styrofoam cup). When trash is detected a net in between the rudders would be released. The robot would then float over the trash and catch it in the net. If you have no idea what I am talking about here is a somewhat terrible diagram to go with a terrible explanation. 

ideathingy.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obviously it wouldn't the size of this awesome boat, but you get the idea. Only question is what to do with the trash once it is in the net. I will hopefully start working on the robot this weekend. Any suggestions?

This question is actually very serious. Now or later, I believe LMR community will be able to help our planet!