In a bid to tackle the escalating issue of river and ocean pollution in India, Hong Kong-based marine technology startup Clearbot unveils plans to launch a cutting-edge fleet of larger solar-powered autonomous boats. These advanced vessels, slated for deployment in March, aim to significantly amplify Clearbot’s ongoing efforts in cleansing polluted waters.
Each of Clearbot’s new self-driving electric boats boasts a remarkable capacity to collect approximately 500 kg of plastic waste and other debris from the river and ocean. This represents a doubling of the capability compared to the company’s existing robotic cleaners presently operational across Indian seas and lakes.
Founded by graduates from the University of Hong Kong in 2019, Clearbot seeks to revolutionise the marine services sector, as highlighted by Utkarsh Goel, the co-founder, and chief technology officer. The vision is to automate and electrify tasks traditionally performed by manned diesel boats, thereby fostering sustainability within the industry.
Originally conceived as a student initiative to assist Indonesian surfers in efficiently cleansing waterways, Clearbot has since evolved into a global endeavour. The realisation of substantial demand for sustainable marine infrastructure prompted founders Goel and Sidhant Gupta to expand their scope.
Over the past year, Clearbot has deployed 13 boats capable of collecting up to 250 kg of plastic waste daily, addressing projects in Hong Kong and India. These autonomous electric vessels navigate waters independently, retrieving surface debris and depositing it for subsequent recycling.
India, which contributes approximately 13 per cent of global ocean plastic, remains a focal point for Clearbot’s expansion. Recent pilot projects in cities like Shillong and Bengaluru have showcased the effectiveness of Clearbot’s technology in significantly reducing waterborne waste.
Clearbot’s latest endeavors come at a critical juncture, as global awareness of ocean pollution’s detrimental effects continues to grow. With at least 11 million tonnes of plastic entering oceans annually, initiatives like Clearbot’s represent vital steps toward mitigating environmental degradation.
Moreover, Clearbot’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond waste collection. By harnessing solar power for its fleet, the company eliminates carbon emissions associated with conventional diesel-powered vessels.
The innovative approach has garnered attention and investment, with a notable $4 million valuation secured during Clearbot’s seed funding round. Backers include prominent entities like the Alibaba Entrepreneurship Fund and Gobi Partners GBA, underscoring confidence in Clearbot’s potential to drive positive change in the marine services industry.
As Clearbot continues to forge partnerships and expand its reach, the introduction of its advanced autonomous boats signifies a significant stride towards cleaner, more sustainable oceans.
(With inputs from agencies)