The LitterDrone project (Development and Exploitation of Innovative Tools for Remote Marine Litter Control and Management through UAVs) intends to develop a pilot system for the characterization of marine litter in Europe’s coasts. For this it will employ new technologies like unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with high resolution cameras that will perform monitoring in beaches belonging to the Spanish national program of marine litter monitoring in beaches in order to test their technical and commercial potential.
Fieldwork for the project will take place in the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park, an area of enormous ecological value and difficult access, whose beaches are already being monitored through traditional methods.
Images obtained through these methods will be processed through specialized image recognition software in order to proceed to the characterization of the marine litter items found in the monitoring. This characterization can then be employed by the relevant organisms for the design and implementation of prevention and mitigation measures against marine litter.
LitterDrone has as its main objective the development of an innovative service for the management and control of marine litter in coastal areas. This objective will be achieved through the application of new technologies, specifically unmanned aerial vehicles (popularly known as drones) and image analysis software against the traditional methods of marine litter control. Through this methodology it will be possible to evaluate remotely the presence of marine litter in coastal areas, as well as its composition. This will allow to monitor remote and/or inaccessible areas.
With the collected information through LitterDrone it will be possible to easily detect litter hotspots in the coast, as well as the composition of the litter located in them, allowing thus to design more precise and efficient prevention and mitigation measures
This new methodology will present an array of benefits in comparison with the traditionally employed systems in the fight agains marine litter, such as:
- The capacity to increase the geographical scope of activities related with the fight against marine litter in remote or with difficult access
- The lowering of the effort needed in these campaigns, as well as shortening the time devoted to them.
- Easing the work conditions of personnel that perform these campaigns, as the often arduous field work can be replaced by this new methodology.
- The automated identification of marine litter items in an objective way through a specific characterization software, reducing the margin of human error.
Once LitterDrone’s viability in coastal areas has been proved, new areas for its implementation can be explored, such as the detection of floating litter in the open sea, in an underwater environment or in the exploration of the sea floor, allowing thus to extend its contribution to the european maritime sector’s stakeholders, as well as to other regions of the world.