The idea of robots giving us a helping hand has been around for a while. In 1997 Star Wars introduced us to R2-D2, whose cylinder shape is recognized around the world. In 2008 we met WALL-E, who resembled a tiny toy tractor. And now, Open Ocean Engineering has brought us ClearBot — and with the help of gaming company Razer, this sleek, emission-free robot is cleaning up our oceans.
Born out of the concern for Earth’s increasingly polluted waterways, ClearBot is an autonomous, emission-free robot designed to clear away plastic waste from coastlines, rivers, and other bodies of water. Using a camera-based AI program, ClearBot works by targeting individual pieces of trash and ignoring organic debris, leaving nature unharmed.
While initially designed to work in a fleet to clean large areas using geofencing, a single ClearBot can clear a square kilometer (equal to about 186 football fields) of trash in about eight hours and has a battery life of 48 hours. When the ClearBot runs out of battery or fills its 53-gallon mesh collection basket (with a 550-pound storage capacity), it returns to its solar-powered charge station and unloads its contents. From there, Open Ocean Engineering, ClearBot’s parent company, works with recycling companies to get the waste sorted, recycled, and delivered to brands that use recycled plastic in their products. The ClearBot is not only an innovative solution, it is the most effective option on the market. In comparison to other trash clearing alternatives, the ClearBot is 15 times cheaper, has 5 times as much reach, while removing twice as much trash.
This cutting-edge technology caught the eye of the gaming brand, Razer. As part of their plan to reduce the company’s environmental impact, Razer’s Green Investments vertical partnered with ClearBot to design a more marketable-looking machine. The result is a streamlined design, showing a striking resemblance to a luxury speedboat. Its sleek black form is incredibly beautiful and is accented by Razer’s signature triple-headed snake logo. The new design boasts an open bow created by the two long pontoons which aid in funneling trash into its collection bin and an improved camera to support the AI software which detects the plastic waste. These upgrades, along with Razer’s manufacturing expertise, make the second generation of the ClearBot easily scalable, allowing the brand to expand into the global marketplace. Sidhant Gupta, the CEO at ClearBot, praised the new design, saying “With the new model, we’re confident in extending our reach globally to protect marine waters,” and adding “Together with Razer, we look forward to effecting positive change for the world.”
This partnership with ClearBot is part of a larger initiative from Razer to broaden its sustainability efforts. The use of plastics has made sustainability in video games a significant challenge, especially for a hardware company like Razer, which is why they developed a 10-year sustainability plan. The plan addresses four different facets of sustainability within the company: integrating sustainability into company culture, reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing, expanding on an existing campaign that works to protect trees, and creating a new branch of the company that works to invest in sustainability-focused startups. Razer has also pledged to switch to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. By 2030 they will be entirely carbon-neutral, only making their products out of recycled or recyclable materials, using eco-friendly designs, and biodegradable packaging.
While Razer’s investment into ClearBot is a small step towards their goals in sustainability, these steps in environmental consciousness show great promise for Razer’s future. As environmentalism heads to the forefront of the gaming industry’s values, look to Razer as a leader in exploring this new era.