A beach cleaning robot sifts the shores of Lake Tahoe
BEBOT is a battery-powered and solar-powered robot designed to sift waste from sand. It is a collaborative product created by Searial Cleaners (coastal waste management company) and Poralu Marine (marine construction company). Both companies showcased BEBOT over the weekend at Keep Tahoe Blue Stewardship Day, an annual volunteer cleanup event hosted by the League to save Lake Tahoe.
Not So Itsy, Not So Teenie, Shoreline Cleanup Beach Machine
At over 1,300 pounds and 7.5 feet long, BEBOT does a surprisingly quiet job of raking cigarette butts, bottle caps and other trash into its 100 liter collection container. (However, the robot does notify swimmers of its presence as it approaches.) Operators can control BEBOT from up to 150 feet away, pushing the robot at a maximum of 1.7 miles per hour. The two tracks of the BEBOT allow it to “climb” steep and relatively stony terrain.
Once BEBOT has filled its collection container, operators can manually dig through the debris and dump any natural material (like seashells or driftwood) on shore. Searial Cleaners said conservationists found the robot “safe for wildlife, flora and sand” – an important distinction, as a beach cleaning robot would be worthless if it destroyed everything in its path. Prior to its public debut, Searial Cleaners and Poralu Marine tested BEBOT on several Florida beaches shared by sea turtles. They suffered no interference from turtle nests.
Robots like BEBOT are essential to prevent microplastics from integrating into the environment. During the test phase, Searial Cleaners and Poralu Marine used BEBOT along two regularly maintained private beaches which (to the naked eye) appeared very clean. BEBOT still collected a significant amount of trash, proving its effectiveness with tiny debris or those that were hidden a few centimeters below the surface of the sand. The sooner this waste is removed from the sand, the less time it has to break down into smaller pieces and harm wildlife or the water supply.
Searial Cleaners and Poralu Marine, in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, plan to use BEBOT along the shore of Lake Tahoe during busy beach days and after hours. The organizations hope BEBOT will alert beach goers to their responsibility to keep the shores clean, as well as maintaining the sand when the beach is not as crowded.