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Hong Kong start-up Clearbot

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Clearbot is all set to revolutionize marine trash collection with an Automated Robot

Ocean plastic is a global epidemic. Before we move into the subject matter, it is equally important to understand the fundamental characteristics of the Ocean. The ocean covers more than 70% of the Earth’s total surface and contains roughly 97% of its water. Measuring about 361.9 million square kilometers, it is a massive continuous body of saltwater, so large that oceanographers estimate that less than 20% has been explored.

While there is one global ocean, it is generally divided up into five major basins: the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian, the Southern, and the Arctic.

With an average depth of 3,700 meters, experts have also divided the world ocean into various zones based on depth from the surface for ease of oceanographic studies, which are as: The sunlight zone, twilight zone, and deep zone. The deep zone is divided more further into Abyss and the Trenches.

Sunlight Zone 0-600 feet closest to top 90% of ocean animals such as sharks, sea turtles, seals, jellyfish, plants live here

Twilight Zone 600-3300 ft is cold, and its light is dim, but with flashes of bioluminescence—light produced by living organisms.

Midnight Zone 3300-13200 feet – not very much food; the only light is made from animals, squid, eels, and no natural sunlight.

Fish flashing its own light in twilight zone

The deep ocean – the abyss and the trenches.
The water temperature never rises above near freezing. There is a startling lack of life in the abyssopelagic zone; only a select few creatures can survive the immense pressure, such as invertebrates, and in the Trenches zone, no life exists.

In these vast water bodies, Ocean plastic is a global epidemic and threat to our marine life which has found its way to the deepest of the ocean. Plastic is highly durable, highly flexible, and inexpensive to produce. It is so durable that plastic having non-melting properties has helped India on their space project of mission Mars (Mangal) 2013.

Like Sodas and water bottles, bags of all shapes and sizes, forks, spoons, knives and plastic film packaging, covid masks, surgical gloves, vaccination syringes, and last but not least, cigarette butts, hence, we see way more plastics out on the surface of the water since the pandemic hit. From our local beaches to the remote Arctic, it is choking our oceans and killing marine life. Fish, seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals can become entangled in or ingest plastic debris, causing suffocation, starvation, and drowning. Plastic pollution is the most visible example of the havoc we’re pushing to our planet.

As long as people litter and improperly dispose of garbage, waste will continue spreading across our waterways and impacting the environment. The impact of one person’s trash can be hard to visualize, but the result is overwhelming when you look at the big picture.

Let’s look at some facts:

Ten million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans annually. That’s equal to more than a garbage truckload every minute, which means while reading this article 5 truck of garbage has been dumped in the ocean already. Less than 9% of all plastic gets recycled.

100% of mussels tested have contained microplastic.

50% of all plastic produced (380 million tons per year) is for a single-use purpose.

One million marine animals are killed by plastic pollution every year.
There will be more plastic in our ocean than fish by 2050 with this graph being continued and it’s getting worse.

So, how can you make a difference? to practicing planet-friendly habits in your daily life, take action like:

1) Plan ahead. Keep a water bottle or reusable coffee mug with you, have your own utensils for on-the-go meals, and carry a reusable shopping bag.

2) Donate unwanted plastic items such as furniture and dishware to local charities, or offer them online to your local freecycle program, instead of trashing them.

3) Use and reuse plastic as long as you can, then get creative and reuse it for something else!

4) Recycle smart. We can do better! Find out which plastics your town’s recycling system accepts, and make sure you recycle them.

5) Clean up your neighborhood. Every piece of plastic you pick up is one less piece in nature.

6) Look at labels and packaging. Try to choose items packed in materials that are accepted at your local recycling center.

In addition to Demand, big corporations do their part to end plastic pollution! Advocate for change. Support companies that are working to solve the plastics crisis. Petition your local government for better recycling capabilities, strict regulations on waste disposal, and initiatives to cut plastic use.

What is Clearbot?

A system of trash collecting ocean drones.

Technology can even play a crucial role in collecting trash from water bodies, and for instance, Hong Kong start-up Clearbot set to revolutionize marine trash collection where Automated robot can detect, remove and analyze debris in a variety of water systems. Such steps are very encouraging and impressive. I was hungry to know more about this noble cause and the technology behind this, and I was delighted to have an interview with a young and dynamic HKU student cum entrepreneur, Mr. Sidhant Gupta, founder of Clearbot. Mr. Gupa, Entrepreneur First, Hult Prize TEDx Speaker, Guinness WR Holder, and his teammate, Mr. Utkarsh Goel, play an essential role as the Lead Engineer Suisse HKU Machine-Learning Soc (President), HKU RC Tech Club Founder.

Mr.Gupta(In Centre) and his team

Clearbot is a swarm of ocean drones that autonomously removes trash from water bodies. They have an AI-script on board that detects trash, and the swarms work together to bring the waste back to the dock/collection area, and data is generated for the garbage collected by the robots (amount, size, type etc.) and can be viewed in real-time on their dashboard.

Clearbot was started to make cutting-edge engineering available to the most vulnerable and exposed communities, giving them the tools to create global impact with their local effort, Mr. Gupta Said. He further quoted their journey from inception, the first expedition, and finally to the Global Grand Challenges stage with the right team and support. Their ultimate goal is to stand a fighting chance against the global plastic crisis and to push ahead until they can sustainably use this system to remove 90% of the trash from our oceans. 

Among its many awards and accolades such as HKTDC’s Start-Up Express winner began as a student project at HKU to Global Grand Challenges Summit, London being the first runner up. The company also attracted the Wall Street Journal’s attention, which cited Clearbot as one of the show’s “weirdest and most wondrous gadgets”. 

“Clearbot is certainly a far more advanced solution for clearing marine waste than existing methods,” said Mr. Gupta. 

Inbuilt AL-Vision software to quickly identify floating waste in water bodies, Self-navigation programmable routes for clearbot to patrol are the key features. The best part is its capability of self-charging -the batteries and solar panels allow clearbot to run 24/7 and detects when it is low on battery and automatically moves to dock to recharge itself. This stands out and makes clearbot more efficient and cheaper than manual clean up, making Clearbot appealing to governments and large corporations, which are currently spending billions on clean-up efforts. “

In 2019 the team went to Indonesia- Bali to help their ocean clean up, and results and support from the locals were overwhelming. Locals have struggled for many years keeping their oceans clean, and for them, clear boat has been a lifesaver and life changer. Clearbot robot helped in their day-to-day challenge in maintaining a hygiene environment.

Interestingly, we can help them by simply uploading marine trash pictures to their website https://www.clearbot.dev/lablewhich will help them train their Robots to Identify, detect, and collect the trash.

For more information, please visit the website https://www.clearbot.dev/

For many years we have seen a rapid growth of human consumption, population, global trade, and urbanization, resulting in humanity using more of the Earth’s resources than it can replenish naturally. Every single country is part of this plastics crisis, and every single individual must be part of the solution: we need a united, inclusive global response, with not only Countries and their Governments but also environmental experts, local companies, and communities who all belief on working for the betterment of bringing positive change to the environment and its issues. Many of them have somehow been successful, but the race is still on and on until we restore nature. Indeed, we all can play a vital role in stopping the catastrophic decline of nature by coming together to tackle plastic pollution; we can show that decisive, collective action to restore nature is possible.

I am confident that a day will come where we proudly say we appropriately share the planet.

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Apeksha Mehta

Apeksha Mehta

Born and brought up in East Africa (Dar-es-salaam) resides in Hong Kong for the past 12 years. Working as an accountant, a passionate Tarot card reader, and loves to gather knowledge in every field. Deeply rooted family background of writers and authors motivates her to pursue her writing skill.

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21 COMMENTS

    • Great work. Very informative and eye opening. Clearbot and such technology will definitely help. Please write more articles. Amazing read. Very well written.

  1. Important information regarding the plastic dump in our ocean.. If we don’t learn to treat our oceans respectfully then we are doing injustice to our future generations.. Hoping that people will take better care from now on.. Great article 👍

  2. Article is so precisely explained from the definition of ocean to the remedies of disposal of used plastic to the solutions of cleaning the ocean as well as saving marine life…

  3. Well detailed article and amazing revolutionary step towards eradicating ocean pollution… Bravo Apeksha.. Keep spreading your skills..

  4. It’s a world cause , thanks for writing about this . Actually humanity is going more on consumption nd less on earth care . We are forgetting that this Earth is our home and we have to protect it not destroy it . To support such causes we should be very enthusiastic and walk forward. It’s a great initiative as mentioned in this article . Thanks for writing on this wonderful topic .

  5. Well said..awareness article..we should take care of our planet in respective manner..thanks for creating insight on these topic..

  6. Bravo Apeksha,
    The information you presented is commendable, and worth cascading to our young readers.
    Please convey our regards and best wishes to the creators of Clearbot.

    Keep educating us through your articles.

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