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These giant, manta ray-shaped robots are designed to solve a major ocean problem: 'Roomba meets Pac-Man'

The short-term plan is to deploy 10 smaller robots into the ocean.

The short-term plan is to deploy 10 smaller robots into the ocean.

Photo Credit: iStock

Climate tech startup Seaweed Generation has developed robots that look like manta rays that can sink seaweed to the bottom of the ocean to help absorb carbon. 

The robots, called AlgaRays because of their similarity to the aquatic animals, have been described as a "Roomba meets Pac-Man" according to The Hustle.

Seaweed, like other plants, absorbs carbon dioxide and generates oxygen, so when the AlgaRays sink seaweed to the bottom of the ocean, the fleet of robots' work effectively "not only locks carbon away for hundreds of years, but also prevents environmental disasters caused by the seaweed … when it hits coasts, where it can also severely impact human health and livelihoods," according to Seaweed Generation's website.

A rendering of AlgaRays
Photo Credit: Seaweed Generation

These robots are solar-powered, and the final models will be 32 feet wide. The machines can also function autonomously, though the current models are remote-operated by people.

Since carbon pollution directly contributes to the dangerous overheating of our planet, it's vital that we embrace technologies and solutions that can help absorb some of that carbon to keep it out of the atmosphere. "The deep ocean is already the biggest carbon sink on the planet," founder Patricia Estridge told The Hustle. "What we're doing is just speeding that up."

The short-term plan is to deploy 10 smaller robots into the ocean, and that a total of 1,000 bigger machines can eliminate the irksome sargassum — a variety of seaweed that can cause serious problems — for good. The company also hopes to expand to a more commercial endeavor: using robots to cultivate seaweed for uses in fertilizers and animal feed, with another robot they're calling the AlgaVator.

"I'm not necessarily passionate about sinking seaweed. I'm passionate about using seaweed for the best possible use case," Estridge said. "Sargassum is an opportunity to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide every year."

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