BANGKOK – Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources is developing an AI robot to trap plastic debris before it reaches the sea. In the hope of preventing loss of marine life to plastic bags.
A collaboration with SCG Chemicals, the project aims to launch the robots by the end of this year.
The prototype robot was unveiled on Thursday at a meeting of hundreds local partners who are collaborating to protect marine resources.
Cholanat Yanaranop, president of SCG Chemicals, said the robot was the brainchild of last year’s “SCG-DMCR Litter Trap” project. It’s aimed at preventing discarded plastic bags entering the sea.
“We have developed everything from its mechanism to its digital technology. The robot is programed to collect plastic waste by trawling rivers guided by a mobile signal. It is a practical solution and communicates well with users,” he said.
SCG Smart Litter Trap 4.0, AI Robot to Trap Debris
Dubbed the SCG Smart Litter Trap 4.0, the prototype robot is 1.5 by 1.2 meters and has the capacity to collect about five kilograms of plastic per trip.
Powered by a solar panel, the device also boasts machine-learning properties that allow it to adapt to the task. The robot is smart enough to identify and then retrieve plastic bags.
The original fish-basket-shaped trap runs 5 meters in length by 1.8 meters high
The SCG-DMCR Litter Trap, which used trap doors that opened to collect plastic waste as it flows with the tide. The original fish-basket-shaped trap runs 5 meters in length by 1.8 meters high. It has a much larger waste capacity of 700kg.
The company yesterday handed 20 of these traps to the department, which plans to use them in pilot projects.
Wijarn Simachaya, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said public awareness on marine plastic waste has grown. Considerably more after the death last week of the young Dugong called Marium.
Funding from World Bank and Asian Development Bank
The ministry was working at the local and international levels to reduce plastic bag consumption, he said. Pointing to the Bangkok Declaration on Marine Debris Management announced by Asean leaders at their summit earlier this month. Its backed with funding from World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
“It takes around 450 years for plastic to decay in the sea, and we only started to use it 80 years ago. This a chapter in our challenge to live in an environment under severe pressure from marine debris and climate change,” he said.
Thailand has been named the sixth-highest marine polluter in the world. About 2,172 tonnes of the 24 million tonnes of waste Thailand produces annually finds its way to the sea.
About 57% of that garbage is plastic waste.