Robotic solution for cleaning the seabed

29 July 2022

“The robot has built-in sensors that identify what is on the seabed to make it easier to collect plastic and waste”

TECNALIA has developed an underwater robot that cleans the canals of Venice by collecting rubbish for recycling

Using its multi-technological knowledge, TECNALIA has developed a robotic solution for cleaning the seabed and recycling the collected rubbish. The system consists of a floating platform and an underwater robot joined by eight cables connecting the mobile system to the platform.

The robot has built-in sensors that identify what is on the seabed to make it easier to collect plastic and waste. It also includes a suction pipe to collect smaller debris and also an hydraulic grapple to grip larger objects, such as tyres, boxes, sections of shipwreck and fishing nets. The robot has been submerged for the first time to five metres and tested with translational and rotational movements.

Waste collection

This initiative aims to clean the seabed thanks to waste collection, and in the next phase, to develop a robotic solution that identifies the collected plastic in the port and sorts it by type in order to facilitate recycling. The last phase involves the contribution of recycled fibres to generate composites with better performance, thus contributing to increase the life cycle of the products we consume and to strengthen circular economy models.

The pilot test will be completed in the next few days and in September a new waste collection will start in order to leave the canal completely clean, with the aim of taking this activity to more areas of Venice. Our team will adapt this solution to more places around the world to achieve a cleaner seabed that renews aquatic ecosystems.

Many thanks to the whole team and especially to José Gorrotxategi, Pierre-Elie Herve and Ángel San Román for the successful start-up in Venice.

Learn more about mobile robotics

If you are interested in learning more about TECNALIA’s mobile robotics capabilities, don’t hesitate to contact our expert team led by Mariola Rodríguez Mijangos.

D+I mentions our contribution to the Maelstrom project funded by the European Commission through the H2020 programme.