RanMarine Technology is a drone technology company from The Netherlands. We specialise in remote controlled and autonomous drones called WasteSahrks that swim through water, extracting unwanted material and gathering data about their marine environment. Modelled on Planet Earth’s biggest fish, the Whale Shark, our drones are designed to be efficient, long-lived, non-threatening and unobtrusive. RanMarine’s WasteSharks will: eat plastics and other litter; detect chemicals in the water; extract alien and pest vegetation. Agile, both human-operated and autonomous, and with zero greenhouse emissions – our drones act as an intelligent tool to cleaning our waters. We are also obviously talking to global partners out here that can help us scale more easily globally.
The WasteShark™ is an aquadrone that removes unwanted plastic, trash and alien/pest flora from our waters. The drone is a learning machine continually collecting data about the environment.
It was idea that started some three years ago; but now that idea has landed Capetonian Richard Hardiman in clouded waters. Literally.
His concept was to develop a way to clean up harbours and waterways of pollutants, plastics and other debris before nature took its course and shipped it all out to sea on the tide.
“Humans are very good at forgetting where waste truly ends up. It if its not going into some landfill somewhere then odds are it has ended up in a storm-water drain, river or outlet and then off into the ocean never to be seen again; by humans that is.” Says Hardiman. “The impact of plastic soup and these huge plastic islands out in the Pacific ocean and elsewhere cannot be underestimated.”
The entrepreneur’s current project sees him setting up camp in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and developing large autonomous nautical drones that skim the surface of harbors and urban waterways (think canals in Holland’s case) stripping the water of floating plastic bottles, takeaway packets and whatever else has ended up in there to pollute the system.
“I am not sure that the idea was born out of being ecologically minded”, says Hardiman, “It was more of a case of seeing how harbors and marine waste management currently deal with the problem and seeing that there had to be a more effective and efficient way of solving it. The end result of course is a greener planet but to make it sustainable as an idea it needs to parallel good business.”
After three years of development and trying to find investment into the business, RanMarine, Hardiman’s company, were accepted into the worlds first Port Accelerator, PORTXL, in Holland, based in the port city of Rotterdam. Chosen from some 1700 startups and marine technology businesses globally, Hardiman has now found himself in the middle of Europe’s busiest and largest port building drones and disrupting an industry he for sometime had no idea about.
“I always knew the idea made sense from a human element, we all want a greener more sustainable planet and using technology seemed a no-brainer, but to make it a strong business case took a lot of research and time; validating the concept to forever, people love it but as always finding the people who love something and want to pay for it always takes longer.”
But what about competitors?
“They are a number of operations and projects that are cleaning up the oceans and developing amazing technology to bring down the amount of plastic contamination in the water, however much of that is been done in open seas; our intention has always been to trap it at source, tourniquet the pollution before it gets to be a problem out there.”
RanMarine’s first foray into the Port’s has started with the WasteShark, an autonomous drone that swims through the water collecting waste while at the same time sending back critical data to the Port authorities on the water quality, weather and depth of the harbor. It’s powered by solar panels and batteries with the ability to learn its environment and become more efficient in its routes and collections.
“It’s Wall-E of water”, says Hardiman referring to the Pixel character of the same name that was left on earth to clean up all of the humanities waste while they escaped in a space ship for greener pastures. “It is capable of 24-7 operations and is intelligent; it builds knowledge. It doesn’t replace humans and jobs; we still require the same interaction of those that were collecting the waste but our intention is to up-skill workers to operate the Sharks and at the same time collect far more waste.”
RanMarine’s journey to Europe is also one of investment and partnering.