Robot for collecting ocean waste wins at Trinity’s student incubator

30 Nov 2021

Amy Smith, who was part of the winning team. Image: Marc O’Sullivan

A team of secondary school students from Dublin and Sligo pitched a robot designed to combat ocean pollution.

An idea for a sea-roaming, rubbish-picking robot called the C-Rover has taken top prize at the STEAM+ICE final pitch event.

STEAM+ICE (science, technology, engineering, art, maths, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship) is an incubator programme for secondary school students in Ireland.

It is a collaboration between the Trinity Walton Club, a STEM club for secondary school students, and Tangent, the start-up workspace at Trinity College Dublin.

For this year’s programme, student participants engaged in workshops and challenges virtually over four weeks, ending with the final pitch when a panel of judges chose the overall winning project.

The winning team included 15-year-old Amy Smith from Dublin, 16-year-old Cian McSharry Daly from Sligo and 16-year-old Robert Hussey from Dublin.

They pitched a robot designed to combat ocean pollution. The idea is that users could rent time on the C-Rover to control it remotely and have fun picking up rubbish from the ocean. The robot could then operate autonomously when not being manually controlled.

“The standard of entries this year was so high, and we are delighted to congratulate team C-Rovers on being awarded first place,” said Trinity Walton Club director Arlene Gallagher.

“We asked students to address real societal issues with their projects, and to think of inventive ways that they might be able to solve them, and the winning team have done just that. The creativity and entrepreneurial spirit they have all shown throughout has been inspiring, our future is bright with young minds like these.”

The winners will receive Trinity Walton Club scholarships, continued business mentoring from Tangent and branded hoodies of their own project.

Other projects competing in the final included a silicon wrap alternative to cling film, a device to help factories locate lost tools or instruments, and a 3D printer that uses recycled materials to print objects.

Speaking about the entries, Tangent’s head of student entrepreneurship, Gavan Drohan, said: “Over the weeks, we’ve watched them progress and they have exceeded all of our expectations in terms of the ideas they have come up with and the real business know-how that they have shown.”

Earlier this month, Tangent also launched a new online incubator to help turn social and commercial business ideas into entrepreneurial ventures. The idea workspace is also notable for running the third-level LaunchBox accelerator every summer, which funded 10 student start-ups this year, as well as an AI-focused accelerator programme.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic