FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — Everybody meet Bebot, the beach cleaning robot removing plastic and other trash from Florida beaches. Bebot made a stop on Okaloosa Island between Fort Walton Beach and Destin Tuesday on its state-wide tour.
Non-profit Keep Florida Beautiful said Bebot is brand new technology donated by Surfing’s Evolution and Preservation Foundation.
Bebot has the power to clean the size of seven basketball fields in an hour. The battery lasts three hours with solar panels extending its battery life. Savanna Christy with Keep Florida Beautiful said overall, Bebot is here to spread awareness.
“I think everyone thinks it’s a really cool concept, but we also realize, you know, that it is not, you know an end all be all, we still need our volunteers,” said Christs. “We still need people to change their behavior to address the issue. But it is neat. It does capture attention and get people engaged.”
Members of Okaloosa County’s Coastal Resource Team with Visit Destin-Fort Walton Beach took turns driving Bebot, gathering mounds of trash in just minutes. Bebot sweeps up anything from plastic straws, to water bottles and everything in between.
KFB staff then sorts the trash and any shells or natural elements collected are tossed back on the beach.
“This is something that they’re going to remember and then hopefully they remember our message which is you know one, please don’t litter,” said Christy. “Two, please go to a clean up, pick up, help clean up the environment. Three, you know one person can make a difference. So just because you don’t live here on the beach in Okaloosa County, you know you’re still impacting the environment around you.”
Bebot has tires digging two inches into the sand, sorting and tossing items into its back trash section. The robot is environmentally friendly using no fuel.
Poralu Marine, a leader in aluminum marina construction created the robot for its Searial Cleaners brand. Florida affiliates wanting a remote-controlled robot of their own can contact Poralu Marine directly, the price tag sits at $68,000. Christy said KFB has no intention of getting more Bebots.
So far Bebot made appearances in Escambia County, Pinellas County and Brevard County. Christy said next is to head down to South Florida to make beachgoers aware of marine debris and beach littering.
“In Pinellas County, they had it for an entire month,” said Christy. “They did 17 different demonstrations on 17 different beaches in the county and over the course of that time I think they picked up almost 1500 pounds of litter.”