PhD student Hirdy Othman from the Faculty of Integrated Technologies (FIT) floored judges with a full-sized prototype for the Floating Waste Collector Conceptual Design Competition organised by the Ministry of Development held in conjunction with World Environment Day 2021.
The competition aimed at potentially harnessing the skills and expertise of those in higher institutions particularly in the technical field to develop mechanisms and technology which are practical, economically viable and cost-effective solutions.
Hirdy's "Litter Buster" took first place in Category A: Skimmer Boat which targets the daily and continuous clearing, cleaning and collection of all forms of floating waste found along Brunei River and its tributaries, trapped in floating debris. The semi-autonomous robot vessel is integrated with a sensor system that can collect various types of waste such as floating plastics. Currently conducting research in Systems Engineering under his supervisor Pg Dr Mohd Iskandar Pg Haji Petra, Hirdy aims to develop a fully autonomous robot which would be able to learn and locate pools of floating trash.
Despite difficulty in sourcing raw materials such as carbon fibre and limited availability of electronic components such as sensors and microprocessors, the Litter Buster has successfully demonstrated its effectiveness through trial tests. The first test was conducted at the UBD Swimming Pool which was a controlled environment with no current, waves and marine animals. The second test was conducted at Lugu Lake, which has conditions similar to Kampong Ayer.
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam expressed the intention to make the Sultanate a Smart Nation. Thus, the Brunei Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 was formulated. "My project will contribute towards this initiative," Hirdy said. "As well as towards the Industrial Revolution (IR) 4.0, which works towards technological advancement in Brunei as well as safeguarding the environment."
Statistics provided by JASTRE pointed out that in 2018, over 20,000 bags of rubbish were removed from the Brunei River. But with rubbish being continuously drawn into the river, efforts are required to reduce or stop this problem in order to prevent a high volume of plastic waste in the river.
Through the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRE), the Brunei River Cleanup Project aims to holistically manage waste found along Brunei River which includes daily house-to-house collection services for Kampong Ayer residents, collection of floating waste along Brunei River, and collection of waste underneath houses in Kampong Ayer. Conceptual designs with the best potential to be developed into a prototype may be further engaged for prototype development. The prototypes may then be selected as the mechanisms to be used in the Sungai Brunei Cleanup Project.
With UBD's goal of becoming a "University of Innovation and Enterprise", students and researchers are encouraged to develop innovative ideas beyond prototypes and into marketable products and services. These efforts will then be able to contribute towards the diversification of Brunei Darussalam's economy by generating job opportunities for local graduates.
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