DEME deploys autonomous plastic collector on Scheldt River

Photo: DEME

DEME Environmental Contractors (DEC), the environmental specialists of DEME, has begun installing a plastic collector on the Scheldt River on behalf of the Vlaamse Waterweg (Flemish Waterways Authority).

A combination of a fixed and mobile installation will be tested for a year to collect waste from the water.

The DEME test set-up consists of a fixed installation that passively collects floating and suspended waste from the water and a mobile system that actively collects bigger pieces of waste. The fixed installation will collect floating and suspended waste and will consist of a V-shaped fyke with a collection pontoon.

The mobile installation consists of a smart detection system, a work boat that can navigate autonomously, and a charging point.

Floating waste is detected using artificial intelligence by smart cameras that are installed on the old Temse bridge while an autonomously navigating work boat named Marine Litter Hunter intercepts waste and pushes it to a collection pontoon.

The waste is collected in the collection pontoon, where a crane equipped with a grab transfers the waste into a container. The fixed crane is operated remotely by an operator using virtual reality and 3D vision technology.

When the container is full, the work boat takes this autonomously to the docking station, where it is unloaded by a transfer crane on the quay.

Marine Litter Hunter is fully CO2-neutral and moors autonomously at the docking station to charge.

The test phase, that will start in February 2020, is being carried out in cooperation with the University of Antwerp and the Institute for Nature and Forestry Management (Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosbeheer).

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