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Ideonella - The plastic eating robot

Project by Polygence alum Jahnavi

Ideonella - The plastic eating robot

Project's result

My project designed a robot that can clean up plastic from the surfaces of rivers and avoid marine life.

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It is estimated that 500k metric tons of plastic are dumped in water bodies per year (by littering, flushing items down the drain, and leftover fishing materials) - more plastic than the equivalent forty thousand blue whales in the ocean. Plastic takes 500 to 1000 years to degrade turning into microplastics that are ingested by fish and eventually, us. At this rate, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea (Kaandorp, 2023). Growth in computing technology is fueling robotic applications. Using underwater robots is far safer than using humans. This paper describes a way to solve the problem of removing floating pieces of plastic from water surfaces using Unmanned Surface Vehicles swarms without endangering marine life.



Polygence mentor

PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate


Computer Science, Engineering


Wireless sensing, robotics, systems engineering.




Hello! My name is Jahnavi Balaji. I want to conduct a feasibility study on underwater robots. This is because I want to create a robot that can differentiate between trash and sealife and pick up trash in the future. I want it to analyze the data it takes (tons of trash; trash per meter squared; etc.) and send it for reading.

Graduation Year