Drone-Guided Litter Clean-Ups Are Restoring the Pristine Beauty of the World’s Beaches

Drone fliers often refer to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) as ”eyes in the sky.”  Thanks to their advanced sensor imaging and high magnification zoom cameras, drones possess “eagle” eyes, spotting small objects from high altitudes that may not be visible to the naked eye, even during close field inspections.

A good example of drone aerial surveying prowess is the use of drones to spot plastic and other garbage littering the world’s beaches.  Many countries that rely upon foreign tourism are desperate to find new ways to clear away the rubbish littering their coastlines and thereby restore their nation’s reputation as an attractive vacation spot.

Organizing massive one-day trash collections with volunteer foot patrols can help, but drones can spot and map the worst beachside eyesores — some of them hidden under brush or buried in sand – and direct trash collectors to priority clean-up areas, maximizing their efficiency.

The latest country to join the drone-directed beach clean-up bandwagon is Australia, which is home to some of the world’s most attractive beachside resorts as well as world class surfing.  Australia produces 2.5 million tons of plastic waste annually, amounting to approximately 100 kg per person. However, only 13% of that plastic is recovered, with 84% sent to landfill, further magnifying the disposal problem.  Much of the nation’s plastic ends up in the ocean and a large percentage of it also washes up on the shore, but some is first deposited on beaches by careless tourists.

Over the years, accumulating trash and litter has transformed this one-time seaside paradise into a global eyesore.

Australia’s been attacking its beach trash problem for some time, but this year the nation’s volunteer foot patrols are being supported by a vast network of drone pilots – more than 10,000, in fact.  Sydney-based drone startup Aerologix has just launched a partnership with Clean Up Australia to assist communities in cleaning hidden pockets of garbage along the nation’s beaches as well as in nature reserves and inland waterways.

As part of the first weekend clean-up – scheduled for this weekend March 11-12, 2023 — fleets of remotely-piloted drones will scour Australia’s northern  coastline to collect images and video to identify and map trash “hotspots” for ground clean-up groups to focus their attention on.

Drone sensor imaging does far more than identify large clumps of piled up garbage; the technology can zero in on different types of glass or metal and distinguish them from fragments of shells or wood.  Based on  advanced digital technology, a granular color-coded map can depict in precise detail what is trash and what isn’t.

“I’m so excited to be working with Clean Up Australia, it’s been a vision of mine since we started the business four years ago,” says Aerologix Founder and CEO, Tom Caska. “Using innovative technology for positive change is one of our mottos and I can’t think of a better application to do that. One of the things that excites us most is using new technology in a new way to help the environment and help clean the planet up.”

Jenny Geddes, CEO of Clean Up Australia, the nation’s largest community-based environmental event, echoes Caska’s sentiment.  “We’re excited to be partnering with Aerologix to obtain access to never before seen areas of rubbish from the sky.  This will give our Clean Up Australia teams the ability to clear problem areas that would otherwise remain out of sight.”

Australia is not alone in anticipating major economic as well as environmental benefits from their drone-enhanced clean up efforts.  Other nations that rely even more heavily on year-round vacationers – including Tanzania and neighboring Zanzibar – have received support from the World Bank to organize a vast drone mapping effort of coastal hotspots in the hopes of restoring their sagging tourist revenues.

Drone guided beach clean-ups are no far-flung foreign adventure.  In the United States, similar clean-ups are underway in various locales, including  in and around Lake Michigan where Chicagoans flock in the summer.  And not all of these drone clean up efforts focus on aerial surveying and mapping alone.  In Amsterdam, city officials have begun deploying drones — dubbed Waste Sharks – to conduct the actual trash collection.  The waterborne drones patrol  the city’s rivers and nearby estuaries and gobble up and collect litter floating on the surface for eventual recycling.

The Lake Michigan effort, a partnership between Grand Valley State University, the Meijer corporation (which donated $1 million to jump start the effort)  and the city of Muskegon includes two different kinds of drone robotic vehicles – one called BeBot, the other Pixie. Bebot is actually a tank-like vehicle that rumbles down the beach and sifts through the sand to collect litter, then deposits what it finds in an attached bin.  Pixie patrols the coastline and collects trash floating in the water.  The drone also samples the water and once collected, the data’s piped over to researchers at GVSU’s Annis Water Resources Institute for in-depth analysis. Like Bebot, Pixie can perform its missions completely autonomously, without remote piloting.

The Lake Michigan effort is just the first of a planned tri-state project that will eventually include Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.  Meijer has committed itself to funding an expanded effort under the authority of the Council of the Great Lakes Region which plans to establish 12 separate test sites of the beach clean-up through the Midwest.

ABOUT US: DroneVideos.com is a Nationwide Media Company specializing in custom Drone Videos for real estate, commercial, farms, construction, golf courses, roof inspections and more. All of our Drone Operators are fully licensed and insured. When you purchase a Drone Video Package from us, you will receive a video professionally edited, color corrected and presented to you on an SEO-Friendly webpage that you can easily share online and on Social Media with a click of a button. Click here to get started.

Previous Drone News:

Start Your Order
We Offer a Variety of Drone Video Packages
to Fit Your Needs and Budget