A beach-based rubbish cleaning robot being developed at Paraparaumu College is one of 35 finalists from around the country in the Conservation Innovation Awards.
The robot, which would have a vision mounted camera, would be able to independently pick up rubbish between the size of a bottle cap and a 3L milk bottle.
The Wall-E 2.0 project is being developed by the college's senior Robotics club students as well as its Societal, Environmental and Animal Rights Action Group (SEAR).
"This idea came about in response to the amount of rubbish that SEAR students picked up along the beach and wanted to create something which could regularly go out along our beaches and pick up the rubbish before it ended up being a contributing factor to ocean pollution," student Maha Fier said.
"Creating a robot which can regularly go out during the week and clean up the amount of litter within a beach can be revolutionary as we face issues like ocean pollution and litter.
"Having a beach cleaning robot could potentially change the game for the cluttered path our beaches and oceans are heading towards and can potentially change public perception for everybody to realise that littering is not OK." She said the robot build would start at the beginning of next year.
"We are currently securing funds for this project. Public demonstrations of the robot will be made at the end of next year for local schools and the rest of the community as well as bring up more of a discussion on ocean pollution and the impacts of waste and what we can do more to solve this issue."
The awards, supported by World Wide Fund for Nature, The Tindall Foundation, Department of Conservation, Callaghan Innovation, Predator Free 2050 Ltd and New Zealand's Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, reward innovative environmental game-changers.
Designed to help innovators fast-track their ideas to development, the awards cover three categories - engaging young people and communities, Predator Free New Zealand 2050 and an open category.
A prize package of $25,000 will be awarded to each category winner. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in Wellington on November 22.