Honda cleans up beaches with farm-inspired technology

Honda Motor Co. uses its own in-house technology to clear beaches of trash, a green initiative that began after employees discovered the beach was covered in trash during an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) test.

The major automobile manufacturer wants to expand its beach cleaning activities so that people can safely walk barefoot again.

The company has registered its patented technology on an intellectual property platform that gathers environmental technologies from around the world to improve the planet.

Honda’s “Beach Cleaner” is a device that is pulled by ATVs and picks up garbage. It combs the sand and dredges up small pieces of buried garbage. As soon as the garbage appears on the surface, another device is equipped to collect the debris.

Honda began using beach cleaners in 2006 and has performed nearly 400 cleanups on approximately 200 beaches across Japan. It collected around 490 tons of garbage. It does not sell the cleaners that are used solely for its own environmental protection activities.

It all started during a drive test to determine the marketability of ATVs in 1999. Honda employees discovered the beaches were covered in trash and began working with the prototype department to develop beach cleaning technology.

The first prototype, which dug out garbage, could not even travel a meter due to the strong resistance of the sand.

Inspired by agricultural machines, they developed towing equipment that can pick up garbage.

Chief inventor Masahiro Inoue said it shows Honda’s internal work culture, where each technician can share their own opinions and ideas.

In June, Honda registered its 28 patented beach cleaning technologies with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) platform, WIPO Green, which connects environmental technologies.

WIPO Green was originally created in 2013 from a proposal by the Japan Intellectual Property Association.

“We want people not to use WIPO Green for their patent monopoly, but as a tool that anyone can use,” said the creator of the online platform, Naoto Kuji.

Panasonic Corp. has registered its technology to improve water quality by using the power of electricity without the use of chemicals.

Chugoku Electric Power Co. also registered its technology that prevents clams from being attached to pipes that inject seawater into electric power stations by using light of a specific wavelength. Such technology can reduce conventional chemical processes and reduce marine pollution.