California city turns to UC-backed startup to clean up harbor

Orange County Register, ABC7 report on Clean Earth Rovers’ trash-collecting efforts

After heavy rains hit Southern California, the city of Huntington Beach, California, turned to a University of Cincinnati-backed startup to clean up the trash that subsequently was swept into its harbor, the Orange County Register and ABC7 reported.

Clean Earth Rovers, which was part of UC’s Venture Lab program, has developed rovers that can operate autonomously or via a remote control to clean coastal waterways. The rovers skim across the surface of the water to collect debris, which has included sticks and twigs, bags, bottles, cigarette butts, balloons and cans of paint in Huntington Harbour.

“Any surface debris that is floating,” Clean Earth Rovers CEO Michael Arens told the Orange County Register of the rover’s ability to collect debris. “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.”

Clean Earth Rovers is in the midst of a two-month pilot program with Huntington Beach to pick up trash in the harbor. Within the first few weeks of the trial, the rover filled six 32-gallon trashcans.

By collecting the trash, Clean Earth Rovers has prevented it from sinking to the bottom of the harbor or disintegrating into smaller pieces and drifting out to the ocean.

“People can use pool nets standing from the beach or standing from the marina dock to reach things, but when it's out even just 5 feet off the shore or in the middle of the harbor, it's quite difficult to get to,” Arens told ABC7.

See more from ABC7 and the Orange County Register.

Featured image at top: Clean Earth Rovers' rover in a marina. Photo/Clean Earth Rovers

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