Litter-eating ‘shark’ launched on Leeds waterfront in UK first

A new aquatic robot, inspired by a whale shark and using cutting-edge technology from the Netherlands, is set to clean up the waterways in Leeds City Centre. It is the first project of its kind in the UK.

Yorkshire Design Group and partners are delighted to announce the launch of a litter-eating shark on Leeds Waterfront.

The inaugural launch of the Wasteshark happened today (4 July 2024). from Fearn’s Island, adjacent to the Royal Armouries Museum and Leeds Dock.

The drone, called a WasteShark and inspired by a whale shark which swims along with its wide mouth open to feed, can scoop up to 500kg waste from the surface of the water per day as it swims along.

Powered by electric motors, it will be operated by remote control from the riverside, although it can also work autonomously on a set route, a little like a robot vacuum.

As well as using cutting-edge technology imported from Rotterdam, the project will be the first of its kind to systematically record the volume and types of waste collected, and the very first use of this technology to be approved by the Canal & Rivers Trust on its UK waterways. Partnering with social enterprise Canal Connections means this is the first use of this device to bring both environmental and social benefits.

The idea was generated by the Leeds Waterfront Group, a sub-group of the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce’s Property and Economic Forum.

The group’s chair, Paul Ellison said:

“We are very pleased to have put this innovative project together with support from local businesses as well as Leeds City Council and Leeds Civic Trust. We’re confident that it will generate real benefits to the city and also draw attention to the need to keep our waterways clean and attractive for all to enjoy.”


This post is based on a press release issued by Leeds Waterfront Group


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