Live demonstration of the Robotic Seabed Cleaning Platform in the Venice Lagoon

Public Event | June 9, 2023 | 5 pm

Demonstration event of the Robotic Seabed Cleaning Platform developed within the European project H2020 MAELSTROM

Here the press release and the program of the event in Italian

On June the 9th at 5 pm, Venice will host the first live demonstration event of the Robotic Seabed Cleaning Platform, a technology for marine litter removal developed within the MAELSTROM project, co-financed by the European Union and coordinated by CNR-ISMAR.

The event, part of the European Green Week, will see the presence of the councilor for the environment Dr. Massimiliano De Martin, and various local authorities and stakeholders and it will be a unique opportunity to see the Robotic Seabed Cleaning Platform waste removal operations in the Venice Lagoon.

Two different tools allow for the collection of litter of different sizes: a suction tube for smaller items and a gripper for larger ones, such as tires, abandoned fishing nets and boat components. The robotic platform has been designed to work up to twenty meters deep without damaging aquatic ecosystems; its activity can be carried out both independently and through the guidance of an operator, remotely.

Here the full agenda of the event.

What happens to the waste after the removal operations?

After an initial assessment on the type and weight the litter recovered is disposed depending on their different characteristics and recycling profiles. MAELSTROM, in fact, does not limit itself to implementing technologies for the collection of marine litter but it also intends to contribute to its recycling, following a circular economy perspective, as envisaged by the European Strategy on Plastics in the Circular Economy. The removal and disposal operations are traced through the MAELSTROM App, developed last spring by GEES Recycling and designed to trace the litter since its collection point to its recycling outcomes, so to make the process as transparent and complete as possible.

“Being transported by currents, marine litter (mainly represented by plastic), reach every area of ​​the planet, contaminating ecosystems, damaging animals and putting our own health at risk”, comments Fantina Madricardo, CNR-ISMAR researcher and project coordinator. “Helping to address this global challenge is the ultimate goal of the MAELSTROM project, which brings together 14 partners from eight different countries. The approach is not only technological: beyond the tools that science allows us to develop, in fact, the project envisages various events and moments of meeting and information in Italy and Portugal, to encourage the involvement and dissemination of everyone’s awareness”.   

Further information

  • MAELSTROM Project

MAELSTROM – Smart technology for MArinE Litter SusTainable RemOval and Management – is an EU-H2020 project bringing together 14 partners including research centers, recycling companies, NGOs, marine scientists and robotic experts from 8 European countries. The aim of the project is to implement innovative multi-level solutions for the sustainable removal and recycling of marine litter in coastal environments.

MAELSTROM designs, manufactures and integrates scalable, replicable and automated technologies co-powered with renewable energy and second-generation fuel, to identify, remove, sort and transform all types of collected marine litter into valuable raw materials.

  • Motivations

Increasing amounts of litter are ending up in the world’s rivers and oceans, harming the health of ecosystems and animals. Human health may also be at risk, as plastics may break down into smaller pieces (microplastics) that may subsequently end up in our food, and were recently found in human blood.

A stock of 83 million tons of plastic waste is estimated to be already in the oceans. The recovery of this plastic materials is an arduous and costly task. For this reason, technological innovations such as the ones developed by MAELSTROM are urgently needed.

  • How does MAELSTROM work?

MAELSTROM identifies marine litter accumulation hotspots and assesses its impacts on the ecosystems in two demo sites: the Ave River in Portugal and the Venice coastal area in Italy. In those sites, two marine litter removal technologies will be implemented: a Bubble Barrier in the Ave river to prevent the litter to reach the ocean and a Robotic Seabed Cleaning Platform in the Venice coastal area, to remove litter directly from the seabed.

After the removal, dedicated repeated surveys will be carried out to evaluate the efficiency of the removal technologies as well as to estimate the long-term effects on the ecosystems.

The removed litter will be separated by an AI-driven sorting robot and will go through advanced recycling processes which will allow the regenerated materials to re-enter the industrial supply chain. Examples are chemical precursors, polymers and other materials useful for industrial purposes.

MAELSTROM will, moreover, use a prototype based on low-temperature pyrolysis capable of producing second-generation marine fuel. The fuel produced will be used to power MAELSTROM’s own marine litter removal technologies, creating a self-feeding cycle.

The Robotic Seabed Cleaning Platform

The Robotic Seabed Cleaning Platform developed by TECNALIA, CNRS- LIRMM and Servizi Tecnici allows to reach the seabed of lagoons and coastal areas to remove marine litter, including macro plastics. It also identifies marine litter and picks each item selectively so as to minimize the impact on ecosystems.

  1. A floating platform to support the cable robot structure and winches, as well as industrial equipment.
  2. A cable robot, consisting of eight cables wound onto eight winches to connect the floating platform to an underwater mobile end- effector. By controlling the length and tension of each cable, the position and orientation of the robot end-effector is accurately controlled.
  3. A set of sensors for underwater perception to control the robot and detect & identify the marine litter to be removed.
  4. A drudge to suck up smaller litter and a gripper to grasps larger items like tires, parts of boats, fishing nets etc.


Fantina Madricardo | MAELSTROM H2020 coordinator – CNR-ISMAR

Isabel Gomes | Project Communication Manager – CIMA Research Foundation
Cell: +39. 345948394

Damien Sallé | Robotics and Automation Coordinator – Tecnalia

Mariola Rodriguez | Project Manager – Tecnalia

Nicola Ferrari | Project Partner – Servizi Tecnici