Retailer Helps Clean Up The Great Lakes with Robot Technology: Pixie water drone and BeBot Beach Robot
by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M Crosby
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Retail chain Meijer recently announced it will be taking part in the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program, an initiative to clean up Midwestern beaches and waterways in partnership with the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR). Meijer will participate in the clean up effort using the BeBot, an eco-friendly electric beach cleaning robot capable of cleaning 32,000 square feet per hour, and the Pixie Drone, a water drone that traverses waterways to simultaneously collect trash and gather water data. This will be the largest ever deployment of such devices across multiple states in the Great Lakes, the world’s largest surface freshwater system.
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“It is a privilege to live near the Great Lakes, which inherently comes with the responsibility to protect them,” said Meijer President & CEO Rick Keyes. “Contributing to the conservation of these invaluable waterways is important to the wellbeing of our ecosystems, economy, and the communities we serve. Meijer has a strong history of environmental stewardship, and we’re pleased to partner with the CGLR because the impact these initiatives will make will ultimately benefit generations to come.”
Partnering with community, state and environmental NGO partners, Meijer and the CGLR will lead cleanup projects across beaches, marinas and waterways located throughout Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Earlier this month, Meijer held a press conference at Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon featuring a live demonstration of the technology.
The BeBot and Pixie Water Drone will be operated by representatives from the Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute (GVSU-AWRI).
“Microplastics have become one of the most pressing issues facing our waterways, both in the Great Lakes and on a global scale; we are both excited and honored to be part of Meijer’s initiative to fund new technologies to address this problem,” said Dr. Al Steinman, the Allen and Helen Hunting Research Professor at GVSU-AWRI. “It is critical to resolve the microplastic dilemma, not only for the ecology of our local waters, but also for the economy of our coastal communities, who visit and recreate on our beaches and lakes with the expectation they are clean and pollutant-free. The BeBot and Pixie Drone will help ensure those expectations are met.”
“The City of Muskegon is thrilled to participate in the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program and serve as home to the BeBot and Pixie Drone, which will strengthen stewardship of our precious waterways and majestic Pere Marquette Beach,” said Muskegon Mayor Ken Johnson. “We’re excited to see these innovative devices in action, and our community is grateful for the collaboration of Meijer, the GVSU Annis Water Resources Institute, and the Council of the Great Lakes Region in advancing this eco-friendly initiative.”
Funded by a $1 million donation from Meijer to the CGLR Foundation earlier this year, the BeBot and Pixie Drones will be deployed as part of an expansion of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup’s plastic capture and recovery effort, which began in 2020.
“The Great Lakes, which are at the heart of the bi-national Great Lakes economic region, are a globally significant natural resource,” said CGLR President and CEO Mark Fisher. “By partnering with companies like Meijer, which shares CGLR’s strong commitment to building the region’s future sustainability and economy today, we are able to keep our beaches and waterways clean and free of plastic litter as we work to ensure the materials we use as consumers never become waste by adopting a circular economy mindset in the region.”
Meijer is also undertaking other efforts to protect the Great Lakes, including a project with the CGLR to install gutter bin stormwater filtration systems at a number of its locations, operations to retrofit several parking lots with green infrastructure, and a continuation of its partnership with the Alliance for the Great Lakes on multiple beach cleanup projects.
“The Great Lakes are an area of immense value, and we are proud to be hands-on in the protection of these local waterways,” said Meijer’s Director of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability, Erik Petrovskis.
Read more about drones for conservation:
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- Conservation: Using Drones to Stem The Plastic Tide
- Drones Continue to Make an Impact in Marine Conservation
Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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