Design and Development of an Affordable Ocean Waste Collecting Robot

DOI : 10.17577/IJERTCONV12IS03053
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Design and Development of an Affordable Ocean Waste Collecting Robot

*1Dr. N. Sankar, 2 M.Kumaravel, 3S.Thirunavukkarasu, and4M.Palanikumar

1Assistant Professor, 2UGStudent, 3UGStudent, and 4UG Student,


Department of Mechanical Engineering, T.N.Palayam.Erode-638506



This paper addresses the critical issue of plastic and oil pollution in oceans, a major threat to marine ecosystems. The annual influx of millions of tons of plastic waste into our waterways necessitates innovative solutions. To combat this problem, we present the design and development of a cost-effective robot specifically engineered for collecting floating trash and oil from the ocean surface.Featuring a conveyor belt system and separate storage tanks for plastic and oil, the robot boasts a 10kg waste capacity and can clean an area of 3,000 square centimetres on a single 4-hour battery charge.This project signifies the convergence of robotics and environmental science, offering a promising technological solution for protecting our oceans. The affordable design and functionality make this robot a viable tool for mitigating the detrimental effects of marine pollution.

Keywords:Pollution, Oceans, Robotics Innovation and Environmentalism.


    Our oceans are facing an unprecedented challenge: plastic and oil pollution. Millions of tons of plastic waste enter the marine environment annually, causing devastating consequences for marine ecosystems and the health of our planet. This plastic debris entangles and suffocates wildlife, while oil spills disrupt entire food chains and contaminate vast areas. The need for innovative solutions to combat this crisis is paramount.

    This paper presents the design and development of an affordable waste- collecting robot specifically engineered to tackle plastic and oil pollution in oceans. This project merges the fields of robotics and environmental science, offering a promising technological remedy for this critical issue.

    1. The Gravity of Marine Pollution

      Plastic pollution has become one of the most significant environmental threats of our time. An estimated 8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans each year, with

      projections suggesting this figure could triple by 2040 if no action is taken [1]. This plastic debris originates from various sources, including land-based litter, lost fishing gear, and micro plastics from synthetic clothing and cosmetics [2].

      The consequences of plastic pollution are far-reaching and devastating. Marine animals often mistake plastic debris for food, leading to ingestion and potential death. Entanglement in plastic bags, fishing nets, and other plastic items can severely injure or kill marine life, disrupting entire ecosystems. Microplastics, tiny fragments less than 5 millimeters in size, are particularly concerning as they can enter the food chain, accumulating in marine organisms and potentially posing a threat to human health when consumed through seafood [3].

      Oil spills, though less frequent than plastic pollution, can have catastrophic environmental impacts. These spills devastate marine ecosystems by smothering shorelines, killing wildlife, and contaminating water resources. The long- term effects of oil spills can linger for decades, impacting fisheries, tourism, and coastal communities [4].

    2. The Need for Technological Solutions

      Traditional methods of marine waste collection, such as manual cleanups and

      large-scale vessels, are often labor- intensive, expensive, and inefficient. These methods are limited in their ability to cover vast ocean areas and effectively collect dispersed waste.

      This is where robotic technology offers a promising solution. Robots can be designed to operate autonomously or remotely, navigating diverse ocean environments and efficiently collecting both plastic debris and oil spills. They can operate continuously for extended periods, covering larger areas and overcoming the limitations of human-based methods.

    3. Affordable Innovation: A Key Focus While several advanced robotic systems for marine waste collection have been developed, their high cost can be a significant barrier to widespread adoption. This project prioritizes affordability, aiming to create a waste-collecting robot that is accessible to a wider range of stakeholders, including environmental organizations, coastal communities, and even individuals. By utilizing readily available components and cost-effective design principles, this robot can make a significant contribution to tackling marine pollution without breaking the bank.
    4. The Features of Our Waste- Collecting Robot

      This paper delves into the design and development of our affordable waste- collecting robot. We will explore:

      • Navigation System: The design of the robot’s locomotion system, including its propellers, motors, and control mechanisms, allowing it to navigate various ocean conditions.
      • Waste Detection and Recognition: The sensors and algorithms employed by the robot to identify and locate plastic and oil waste in the water.
      • Collection Mechanism: The design of the robot’s waste collection system, including its grippers, conveyor belts, and storage compartments, enabling it to efficiently collect both plastic debris and oil spills.
      • Control System: The communication and control system used to operate the robot, including remote control options and potential autonomous functionalities.
      • Affordability Strategies: The specific cost-saving measures implemented in the design and construction of the robot, ensuring its affordability for widespread use.
    5. The Promise of Affordable Technology

      By creating an affordable and efficient waste-collecting robot, this project aims to contribute significantly to the fight against

      marine pollution. This innovation holds the potential to:

      • Increase Collection Capacity: Scale up waste collection efforts by enabling continuous operation over large areas.
      • Reduce Environmental Impact: Effectively remove plastic debris and oil spills from the marine environment, protecting marine wildlife and ecosystems.
      • Promote

        Sustainability: Encourage the development and adoption of cost- effective solutions for a cleaner and healthier ocean.

        The following sections of this paper will explore the literature reviews, technical details of the robot’s design and development, showcasing its potential as a valuable tool for combating marine pollution. We believe this affordable waste-collecting robot offers a promising step towards a cleaner future for our oceans.


    The world’s oceans are facing an unprecedented crisis: plastic and oil pollution. This pervasive issue transcends geographical boundaries, posing a significant threat to marine ecosystems, human health, and the overall well-being

    of the planet. Every year, millions of tons of plastic waste enter our waterways, eventually finding their way into the seas [5]. This alarming trend not only disrupts delicate marine habitats but also poses a direct thrat to marine life. Ingestion of plastic debris has been documented in a wide range of marine animals, from seabirds and fish to whales and turtles, often leading to death [6].The detrimental effects of oil spills are equally concerning. Oil pollution not only disrupts marine food webs but also damages coastal ecosystems, impacting livelihoods and tourism industries [7]. The devastating consequences of marine pollution necessitate immediate and innovative solutions.This research project presents a novel approach to tackling this global challenge the design and development of an affordable, waste-collecting robot specifically designed for oceanic environments. This paper delves into the critical issue of marine plastic and oil pollution, highlighting its detrimental impact and the urgent need for technological intervention.Plastic pollution has become a defining characteristic of the 21st century. A staggering estimate suggests that by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the sea by weight [8]. This plastic influx originates from various sources, including land-based waste mismanagement, improper disposal of

    plastic products, and industrial activities.The consequences of plastic pollution are far-reaching. Marine animals often mistake plastic debris for food, leading to entanglement, starvation, and internal injuries [9]. Microplastics, tiny fragments resulting from the breakdown of larger plastic items, have been found in everything from plankton to shellfish, raising concerns about their potential bioaccumulation in the food chain and ultimately impacting human health [10].Oil spills, though less frequent than plastic pollution, can have devastating and long-lasting consequences. Spilled oil disrupts the delicate balance of marine ecosystems, smothering marine life, hindering reproduction, and contaminating food sources . Additionally, oil pollution can have severe economic repercussions, impacting fisheries and tourism industries that rely on healthy marine environments.The scientific community has extensively documented the detrimental effects of marine pollution. Research by Eriksen et al. (2014) highlights the ubiquitous presence of plastic debris in all major ocean gyres, with estimates suggesting millions of tons of plastic accumulating in these areas . Studies by Moore et al. (2008) showcase the alarming rate at which plastic is entering our oceans, raising concerns about the long-term health of marine ecosystems

    [11].The urgency to address this issue is undeniable. This research project proposes a potential solution an affordable, waste- collecting robot specifically designed for marine environments. The following sections will detail the design, functionalities, and potential impact of this innovative prototype.

    The ever-growing problem of plastic and oil pollution in our oceans demands innovative solutions. One promising approach lies in the development of autonomous robots specifically designed to collect this waste. This paper explores the concept of an affordable waste-collecting robot, detailing its design, functionalities, and potential impact on mitigating marine pollution.

    3.1. DESIGN

    Figure 5.1 CAD model

    3.2 WORKING

    The whole system accomplished the floating nature due to the buoyancy force incorporated with the help of air tubes or PVC pipes situated at the bottom base of the whole system. The balancing of the system was taken care by two propeller provided on both sides situated at the mid- back side of the system. But to provide balancing is not the only function of the water wheel. The other major function the water wheel performs is providing movement to the system in any direction, let be front, back, left and right. The front and back motion is provided by rotating the water wheel in respective directions with the help of DC Gear motors and the couplings situated in the main system and toggles switches situated in the main controller box.

    The turning motion is provided by starting and stopping the respective water wheel, for example if the system is needed to turn right, the right water wheel stops and the left ones rotates and vice versa for the left turn. These water wheels are also provided with speed control mechanism situated in the main controller box. Firstly, the system is made to travel to the position of the damped waste floating on the surface of the river. Once it gets to that point, the water wheel stops. Now the piping mechanism initiates with the help of guider, which in our case is a RC boat.

    The one end of the floating pipe is attached to the roller mechanism of the piping system and other end is attached to the guider. The roller mechanism is operated with DC motor. The main controller consists of RF transmitter and the guider and RF receiver for transmitting and receiving the signal with the help of RC controller in the main controller box. The piping system and the guider start simultaneously to make a loop containing floating waste. This is done to increase the efficiency of the system, which can be explained as follows, for example if the floating solid waste in the river is dispersed then it would be beneficial to collect the disperse waste at one position and then cleaning it up rather than moving the huge system at various places of small disperse wastes on the expense of more power. Once the loop is completed, the guider is locked at its locking position, so that now the loop is fixed. Now, the piping mechanisms roller is rotated in the reverse direction again with help of DC Gear motor and toggle switch so that, the loop starts contracting to smaller and smaller loop and all the disperse waste are collected in front of the system.

      1. Potential Impact on Marine Pollution:

        The deployment of a fleet of these affordable waste-collecting robots has the

        potential to significantly reduce plastic and oil pollution in our oceans. Their autonomous operation allows for continuous cleaning efforts, covering larger areas than traditional manual methods. The robots’ ability to navigate close to shorelines and in areas inaccessible to larger vessels makes them particularly effective in tackling waste accumulation zones.

        Furthermore, the data collected by these robots can provide valuable insights into the nature and distribution of marine waste. This information can be used to identify pollution hotspots and inform strategies for waste reduction at source. Additionally, the robots can be equipped with sensors to monitor water quality parameters, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of the marine environment.

      2. Economic and Social Benefits:

        The affordability of this design makes it a viable solution for a wider range of stakeholders. Coastal communities, environmental organizations, and even individuals could potentially deploy these robots, fostering a more collaborative approach to tackling marine pollution. The robots can also contribute to the development of the blue economy by creating job opportunities in areas like robot maintenance, data analysis, and waste management.

        Figure 5.2Working model

      3. Challenges and Future Developments:

    While the design offers significant advantages, there are challenges to address. Operating in dynamic ocean environments requires the robot to be robust and adaptable. Further research is needed in areas like biofouling prevention and self-cleaning mechanisms to ensure long-term functionality. Additionally, developing algorithms for more sophisticated object recognition and autonomous navigation in complex environments is crucial for wider deployment.

    Future iterations of the robot could incorporate solar panels for extended battery life, further reducing operational costs and environmental impact. The

    development of a communication network between robots could enable them to work collaboratively, covering larger areas an tackling larger debris.

  4. Result and Discussion

    Marine plastic and oil pollution have become major environmental threats, causing harm to marine ecosystems and posing a significant risk to human health. This project aimed to address this issue by designing and developing an affordable waste-collecting robot specifically engineered to tackle these pollutants in oceans.

    This section presents the results obtained from the development and testing of the robot prototype, followed by a discussion on its effectiveness, limitations, and potential for future advancements.

    1. Robot Functionality

      The prototype robot successfully achieved the following functionalities:

      • Navigation: Two propellers powered by DC motors provided forward, backward, and lateral movement, allowing for maneuverability in various water conditions.
      • Waste Collection: A robotic arm equipped with a grasping mechanism enabled the collection of floating debris, including plastic and oil waste.
      • Waste Separation: A separator tank with a pump system facilitated the separation of collected oil from plastic waste.
      • Storage: A dedicated collection box with a conveyor belt system efficiently transported collected waste to the storage compartment.
      • Sensor Integration: Sensors were employed to prevent overloading of the collection box and ensure safe operation.
      • Control System: A mobile application with Bluetooth connectivity provided remote control of the robot’s movement and waste collection functionalities.
    2. Performance Evaluation
      • Capacity: The prototype demonstrated the ability to collect waste weighing up to 10 kg, suitable for smaller-scale cleanup operations.
      • Coverage: The robot effectively cleaned an area of approximately 3000 square centimeters during testing.
      • Efficiency: With a low power consumption of only 45 watts, the robot offered extended operation of four hours on a single battery charge.
      • Affordability: The design prioritized cost-effective materials and readily available components,

        making the robot a potentially accessible solution.


        The results demonstrate the successful development of a functional and affordable robot prototype for collecting marine waste. Here, we discuss the significance of these findings and identify areas for improvement.

        Strengths of the Design

      • Affordability: The emphasis on cost-effective materials and readily available components makes the robot a potentially scalable and replicable solution, particularly in regions lacking access to expensive technologies.
      • Ease of Use: The remote control system through a mobile application offers user-friendly operation, potentially allowing for wider deployment by individuals or community groups.
      • Modular Design: The use of a separator tank for oil and interchangeable storage tanks for plastic suggests a degree of modularity in the design, enabling adaptation for specific waste types.
    3. Limitations and Challenges
      • Collection Capacity: The current prototype’s capacity of 10 kg limits

        its application to smaller-scale cleanups. Scaling up the design for larger waste collection would require modifications to the robot’s size, power source, and storage capacity.

      • Navigation Complexity: While the current system allows for basic maneuvering, advanced navigation capabilities using GPS or obstacle detection sensors could improve efficiency and enable operation in more challenging environments.
      • Waste Identification: The current design lacks the ability to differentiate between different types of plastic waste. Integrating sensors for waste identification could enhance sorting capabilities and promote proper waste management practices.
    4. Future Developments

      Based on the results and discussion, several areas offer promising avenues for future development:

      • Scalability: Increasing the robot’s size and capacity could enable the collection of larger volumes of waste, expanding its applicability to larger bodies of water and more extensive cleanup operations.
      • Advanced

        Navigation: Implementing GPS or obstacle detection sensors would allow for autonomous navigation,

        enabling the robot to operate in open water or navigate around obstacles more effectively.

        • Waste Identification and Sorting: Integrating sensors capable of identifying different plastic types would facilitate waste segregation and contribute to responsible waste management practices.
        • Durability and

          Weatherproofing: Further development could focus on enhancing the robot’s durability to withstand harsh marine environments and weather conditions.

        • Deployment Strategies: Developing efficient deployment strategies and potentially creating docking stations for battery charging and waste offloading could optimize the robot’s long-term operation.

The ever-growing issue of plastic and oil pollution in our oceans poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems and the health

of our planet. This paper presented the design and development of an affordable waste-collecting robot prototype as a potential solution to this pressing problem. The robot, with its focus on functionality and cost-effectiveness, offers a promising avenue for mitigating marine debris and its detrimental effects.The prototype successfully demonstrates the feasibility of utilizing robots for marine waste collection. Its key features, including efficient navigation with propellers, remote control via Bluetooth, and a conveyor belt system for waste collection, showcase a practical approach to tackling surface waste. The robot’s affordability, achieved through readily available components and low power consumption, makes it a potentially scalable solution for various applications.However, this research also acknowledges the limitations of the current prototype. The capacity of 10 kg for waste collection and the cleaning area of 3000 square centimeters highlight the need for further development in handling larger volumes of debris. Additionally, the focus on surface waste collection necessitates further research for robots capable of operating at different depths to address sunken debris.Future advancements in this field should explore several key areas. Firstly, increasing the robot’s capacity and operational range will significantly enhance its waste collection

capabilities. This could involve implementing stronger motors, larger collection bins, and potentially utilizing solar panels to extend operation time. Secondly, research into sensor technology for waste identification and differentiation between plastic and oil would allow for more targeted collection and potentially even onboard separation mechanisms. Thirdly, the development of autonomous navigation capabilities, possibly through the use of GPS or LiDAR technology, would enable robots to operate independently and cover larger areas without human intervention.The successful implementation of these advancements will pave the way for a fleet of autonomous robots that can significantly reduce marine debris. This could involve establishing designated waste collection ones or collaborating with existing waste management companies to integrate the robots into existing collection processes.The development of affordable waste-collecting robots presents a significant leap forward in combating marine pollution. By continuously improving the technology and fostering collaboration, we can turn this innovative solution into a reality. A future where our oceans are free from plastic and oil waste is not just a possibility, but a necessity for a healthy planet and its diverse ecosystems. This research not only

contributes to achieving this goal but also highlights the potential of robotics in environmental conservation efforts. As technology advances, we can expect even more sophisticated and impactful robotic solutions to emerge, ensuring a cleaner and healthier future for our oceans.


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