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A device being tested in Huntington Beach is like Roomba for cleaning the water

Laylan Connelly, The Orange County Register on

Published in Science & Technology News

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Think of it like the Roomba that vacuums floors in a home – but this one cleans up the water.

For the past few weeks, a futuristic-looking contraption has been cruising around, scooping up trash in Huntington Harbour, keeping especially busy as heaps of debris washes down with recent rain storms.

The machine is part of a pilot project by the city of Huntington Beach and Clean Earth Rovers, using a technology created with the purpose of cleaning up harbors, lakes, rivers and oceans.

Clean Earth Rovers co-founder and CEO Michael Arens, who lives in Costa Mesa, created the company with COO David Constantine in 2019 while they were students at Xavier University in Cincinnati, where the company is now headquartered. They have a second office in San Pedro near the Port of Los Angeles.

Already, the rovers have been deployed at six locations in Florida and another in Cincinnati. Huntington Beach’s pilot program is the first in Southern California, though the company is in talks with several other coastal cities to also try out the technology.

Coastal trash is a problem beach towns throughout the state grapple with when storm water flushes debris from streets and elsewhere far inland down drains and waterways, straight into harbors, estuaries and the ocean.

 

The device being tested in Huntington Beach – named the Rover AV Pro – has been brought out each week at two locations in the harbor, it then works for about an hour for each session.

“We’ve been picking up a lot of different stuff, we’re trying to experiment being there at different times of the day to see when trash is most prevalent,” Arens said.

The machine uses an autonomous software to do sweeping patterns and can collect up to 100 pounds of trash before needing to be emptied.

“Any surface debris that is floating,” Arens said. “The rover can go out on its own, you don’t have to put anyone in the water or launch a vessel or have another person scooping stuff out of the water.”

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