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AWaRe offers an Autonomous Waste Removal solution to tackle the increasing problem of plastic pollution in the UK canal network.

In 2019, 14 million pieces of plastic were removed from in and around UK canals. Once plastic has entered the slow-moving water of the canals, it is difficult for volunteers to remove. Thus, the plastic remains in the water, to degrade into microplastics and negatively affect the biomass of the ecosystems.

This project has developed a solution that provides the autonomous collection of plastic waste. The device travels up the canal network, using a camera to analyse the canal bank, where plastics are identified by utilizing colour analysis technology suitable for a raspberry Pi. Once identified, the collection cycle is triggered, where the device moves towards the plastic. A capture bucket is then submerged into the water, using the inflow of water to capture the waste, before being extracted and emptied into the waste storage hopper.