Meet Jellyfishbot, the robot that likes to eat sea trash

The Jellyfish, a little catamaran operated by remote control, which is capable of cleaning water by collecting rubbish on the water's surface is seen at work in the port of Cassis, southern France, July 5, 2021.

The Jellyfish, a little catamaran operated by remote control, which is capable of cleaning water by collecting rubbish on the water's surface is seen at work in the port of Cassis, southern France, July 5, 2021. (Noemie Olive, Reuters)


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CASSIS, France (Reuters) — Tourists visiting the picturesque port at Cassis, southern France, often see an unedifying sight: plastic bags, discarded drinks bottles, and even used surgical masks, floating in the water among the boats in the marina.

But the port has found a solution, in the shape of a bright yellow remote-controlled electric powered boat that weaves around the harbor sucking the trash into a net that it trails behind its twin hulls.

The boat, called Jellyfishbot, is about the size of a suitcase and so it can get into the corners and narrow spaces where rubbish tends to accumulate, but which are difficult for cleaners with nets to reach.

"It can go everywhere," said Nicolas Carlesi, who has a Ph.D. in undersea robotics and whose company, IADYS, created the boat.

It is not the only device of its kind. San Diego nonprofit Clear Blue Sea is developing a prototype trash-collecting robot called "FRED."

A marine technology firm based in the Netherlands, RanMarine, has developed a robot called the "Waste Shark," which has been deployed to clean up garbage in Rotterdam harbor.

"Jellyfishbot" is in operation in around 15 French ports and has been exported to countries including Singapore, Japan and Norway, according to Carlesi's company. The firm has just launched an autonomous version.

A keen sailor and diver, Carlesi said he came up with the idea after noticing, whenever he spent leisure time on the water, how much rubbish bobbed in the water in ports.

"I thought: 'Why not try to make this difficult and sometimes thankless task of picking up trash easier?' So we made this robot," he said.

(Writing by Noemie Olive and Christian Lowe; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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