Long after sheen from the BP oil spill had disappeared from the surface, globs of crude could still be found on the ocean floor. Oil leaks and spills wreak havoc with environment, and it’s even worse in the delicate ocean ecosystem.

As the incident in the Gulf of Mexico proved, methods for cleaning up oil spills on the ocean’s surface are far from adequate. Methods for cleaning up the oil that sinks to the ocean floor are non-existent. Until now.

Designer Hsu Sean has developed a robot that could be the underwater-equivalent of the Roomba. Just like the scuttling little robot cleans up the floor of your house, Sean’s Bio-Cleaner system cleans up the ocean floor after an oil spill. Unlike the Roomba, however, these sea-cleaning drones are dropped from a helicopter and are full of biodegredating bacteria.

According Sean’s page on Yanko Design, “the system uses biosensor technology to track the flow of oil and follows the spill while simultaneously releasing bacteria to degrade the pollutant, thereby streamlining the cleanup process and preventing the pollution from spreading further.”

bio_cleaner_2Using its three, whip-like arms to propel it through the water, the Bio-Cleaner skims along the bottom of the sea. All the while, it transmits high frequency acoustic waves that discourage fish and other animals from entering the polluted area.

While the device may sound like a lifesaver, there’s no indication that they’ll be manufactured or for sale anytime soon. Sean’s design also lacks a description of how much oil the Bio-Cleaner could digest. And then there’s the vague statement that the robot would have an H20 battery “powered by the ocean.”

Photo credits: Hsu Sean/Yanko Design