Aarhus City Lab

City Shark

Keeping Aarhus harbor clean

The idea for the City Shark project and its three phases innovates from Aarhus Municipality's ITK (Innovation, Technology and Creativity) department and is implemented in collaboration with the Agency for Data Supply and Efficiency, the Port of Aarhus and the City of Aarhus as well as several external suppliers.

 

The solution is a WasteShark; a sailing drone built primarily to collect waste from the surface of the sea. It is an autonomous drone, which means it sails around the Port of Aarhus completely by itself.

Initially, the water drone will be sailing around the harbor off the outlet from Aarhus stream and collect the waste that comes from the stream. Using a "drone-collector", WasteShark can be retrieved onshore, emptied and recharged before returning to the water to collect waste.

 

The next phase will be in combination with a satellite-controlled air drone, which is controlled by a very precise satellite technology in the EU's new satellites. This technology is used in TAPAS - a research project that meets the increased need for fast and accurate positioning. (You can read more about TAPAS here: www.tapasweb.dk/english)

This air drone will fly over the harbor and with a special lens detect even small amounts of oil or gasoline waste. It will require a large drone, since this lens is relatively expensive and heavy. In combination with a regular lens, the drone will take a lot of photos and with help from Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, all photo data will be analyzed, so the drone's regular camera, in the long term, can be used to spot oil and gasoline waste. In this way, the next version of the flying drones can become significantly smaller and cheaper.

When the waste is detected, the air drone sends the coordinates to the water drone, WasteShark, so that it can sail and collect the oil. Here, a special oil skimmer unit is used, which is created in collaboration with the company EcoSafe, that specializes in collecting oil on the sea surface.
While this may sound very simple, the navigation requires a complicated algorithm that takes wind direction and currents as well as power conditions into account. Therefore, help has been obtained from the US company Kinetica, which contributes in creating the algorithm. The data on the weather conditions from which the algorithm is created is obtained from sensors around the city, which the municipality itself measures on.

 

In the third and final phase, the ambition is to install a sonar (sound navigation and ranging) underneath the water drone, which can create a 3D model of the seabed. This way, it will be possible to locate changes at the bottom of the harbor. In the same phase, sensors are mounted on the water drone, which can measure real-time water temperature and quality.

The whole project is a demonstration project, which aims to find good solutions for the benefit of the climate and the environment while also testing several different advanced technologies at the same time.