Plastic and floating debris are part of a problem that is rapidly growing. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is just one example of how water pollution and trash dumping are spiraling out of our control. Big, floating heaps of debris like the GPGP require interventions that are on a larger scale. This includes those carried out by The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that removes floating ocean debris. However, what about smaller-scale solutions? Coastlines and local waterways also suffer from water pollution as a result of littering. This threatens biodiversity by causing illness and reproductive issues, particularly when aquatic animals consume and ingest the trash. The 4ocean Pixie Drone has been created to tackle this.

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Three women paddle-boarding next to the Pixie Drone

Developed by The Searial Cleaners and 4ocean, the Pixie Drone is a robot that keeps shorelines free of floating debris, including plastics, glass, metal and cloth. It is designed to do so without harming aquatic life. The drone can be remote-controlled or can operate autonomously by following a path set from a corresponding tracking app. In order to be a holistic solution for clearing up coastlines, the drone can operate in freshwater, brackish water and saltwater.

Related: Cleanup device removes 20,000 pounds of ocean plastic

The Pixie Drone capturing floating garbage in an urban coastal area

The Pixie Drone serves as a small-scale solution to capture litter from the water’s surface. Compared to 4ocean’s other clean-up robots, the Pixie Drone is relatively small. It measures 64 inches (162.5 cm) long by 45.5 inches (115.7 cm) wide. This makes the design compact enough to tackle hard-to-reach areas along the coast where the use of large nets or other interventions may not be practical.

Two men on the shore watching and controlling the Pixie Drone

Despite its small size, the Pixie Drone has high operating capacities. For instance, the drone can work for up to six hours while in autonomous mode, making it useful to cover large areas without the need for constant supervision. Additionally, its internal basket also has a volume capacity of 160 liters and can hold up to 132 pounds of waste!

The Pixie Drone in front of a 4Ocean boat near the coastline

The best feature of the Pixie Drone is how easy (and fun!) it is to operate. The drone features a small camera that is linked to the remote controller, which helps navigate the drone’s path. This makes operating the drone become like playing Pac-Man in real life, where the machine “eats” floating aquatic debris. By creating an almost gamified system, the Pixie Drone works to educate and encourage people to actively partake in ensuring a clean environment, which could otherwise be a laborious, mundane task.

+ 4ocean

Images via 4ocean