Pinoy College Kids Have Developed a Boat That Can Collect Sea Waste

( In today's edition of "the kids are alright (or at least, they'll try their darndest to make things alright)" news, a semi-autonomous boat that can detect and gather trash from our oceans has been developed by a group of students from the De La Salle University. Called Project PaWiKAN, their initiative has been chosen as a nominee for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's 2019 Space Apps Challenge, and will be competing on the international level for the global hackathon. 



Project PaWiKAN (short for Patches Withdrawn Kept Away from Nature) sounds pretty straightforward: a pair of deployable, semi-autonomous boats head out into the ocean, gather trash, and drag it back to the mothership using a net, where people can recycle the waste properly. It works by using National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Ocean Surface Current Analysis Real-time data to locate possible garbage patches floating in the ocean, is equipped with an extended-range radio system, and controlled by a deployment station.

Janos Lance Tiberio, Samantha Maxine Santos, Grant Lewis Bulaong, and Antonio Miguel Alejo of Ocean's 4 on the bottom row, surrounded by representatives and organizers. Samantha Maxine Santos Facebook

It was developed by electronics and communications engineering students Samantha Maxine Santos, Antonio Miguel Alejo, Grant Lewis Bulaong, and Janos Lance Tiberio; their group is nicknamed a very apt "Ocean's 4." Based on their research, around eight million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year, with the current volume seen to double by 2030 if no action is taken. Plus, floating, synthetic materials account for 90% of the world's marine pollution. We can only imagine what these numbers will look like in real life in a few decades.

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The work of Ocean's 4 is now a global nominee for NASA's international Space Apps Challenge; the top six winners will be announced in January 2020. In February 2019, another Filipino-made app, the ISDApp, made waves after it was chosen as the winner for the "Galactic Impact" category. Here's hoping these projects inspire even more budding scientists and game-changers!

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