Keeping beaches pristine is a lot of work. Even a diligent team of heroic cleaners can miss small bits of plastic or what I like to call "forever garbage." If left on the beach, these plastic shards can continue to break down into smaller bits and make their way into the bellies of seabirds, turtles, fish and even human organs.
That's where BeBot comes in. This fully electric robot was developed by marine manufacturer Poralu Marine. The first one to be deployed on American beaches is located in Florida, and was purchased by the marine cleanup company 4ocean.
BeBot is powered by a battery, with a solar panel to provide juice for additional accessories. Its continuous-track propulsion system, which looks like something you'd find on a tank, helps it glide smoothly over the sand. As it prowls the beach, its built-in sifter sorts out plastic and other garbage, leaving a clean strip of sand in its wake.
Unlike a Roomba, BeBot cleans with the aide of a remote-controlled operator. Its developers say that the choice not to make the robot autonomous was due to safety concerns regarding beach-going families (both human and sea turtle). Both the BeBot and its remote control have an emergency stop button.
About 30 BeBots exist, and BeBot's developers are currently targeting hotels, resorts and municipalities as potential customers.
BeBot isn't the only environmental cleanup robot on Poralu Marine's roster. It's part of a larger family of gadgets called the Searial Cleaners, which also includes the floating Pixie Drone (which gathers both solid and liquid waste) and the Invisibubble (perforated hoses that use a steady stream of bubbles to guide floating trash into collection points).
Of course, BeBot and the Searial Cleaners alone can't solve our pollution crisis, but they can gather valuable data about what sorts of trash are most prevalent on a given beach, and help awareness about not leaving garbage on our sands in the first place.