The Ocean Cleanup develops advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic debris.
Founded in 2013 by then 18-year-old Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup now employs approximately 50 engineers and researchers. The foundation is headquartered in Delft, The Netherlands.
Instead of going after plastic debris with vessels and nets – which would take many thousands of years and billions of dollars to complete – The Ocean Cleanup is designing a network of extremely long floating barriers that will remain stationary in the water, enabling the ocean to concentrate the plastic using its own currents.
In preparation for full deployment in 2020, The Ocean Cleanup in the summer of 2015 organized the Mega Expedition, in which 30 vessels crossed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch simultaneously to produce the first high-resolution map of the plastic pollution problem. Meanwhile, the team has advanced its design through a series of rapid iteration scaling-up tests. The North Sea prototype is the latest step in this process.
The Ocean Cleanup’s next major research mission is the Aerial Expedition. Planned for September and October 2016, the expedition will conduct a series of low-speed, low-altitude flights across the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in a C-130 Hercules aircraft, using expert spotters and state-of-the-art sensors. Their aim is to accurately measure the biggest and most harmful debris in the ocean.
Teledyne Optech is partnering with the Ocean Cleanup team to support the expedition. Contributing hardware, software and expert consultation, Teledyne Optech will work with the team to create the first-ever aerial survey of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
As a world leader in lidar and a pioneer in bathymetric lidar, this project is a perfect fit for Teledyne Optech’s technology, capability and expertise. In fact, Teledyne Optech has a long history of developing technology for environmental monitoring through its ongoing relationships with organizations such as the Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) and others in areas such as coral reefs and coastal zone monitoring.
Currently, scientists can only estimate the true size of the garbage patch. Leveraging Teledyne Optech’s 40-plus years of lidar and software experience, as well as advanced lidar systems like our Teledyne Optech CZMIL Nova Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging Lidar, the expedition will achieve a faster and more comprehensive scanning of the debris field and be able to begin large-scale debris classification.
During the two-day mission, the expedition will scan thousands of square kilometers using the CZMIL Nova’s suite of image and data collection instruments, including its high-power bathymetric lidar, RGB camera system, and ITRES SASI-600 SWIR (Short-Wave Infrared) sensor. In addition, they will deploy our proprietary data processing software, Teledyne Optech HydroFusion, which gathers data from the lidar, camera, and spectral sensors and fuses this information to estimate both the size of garbage patch (i.e. object detection – how much garbage per square km) as well as the types of plastic present. This system will generate the first detailed 3D visualization image for post-expedition research.
The Ocean Cleanup presented the initial findings of its Aerial Expedition – a series of low-speed, low-altitude flights across the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the plastic accumulation zone between Hawaii and California. Read full press release.
Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of The Ocean Cleanup and Michel Stanier, General Manager of Teledyne Optech Inc., address the media and enthusiastic school children during a press conference held in front of the C-130 Hercules at Moffett Air Field. Watch the recorded press conference here.
Check out some of the recent media and press coverage about the expedition