Could Philly be getting its own Mr. Trash Wheel? - Philly


May 30, 2017 2:33 pm

Could Philly be getting its own Mr. Trash Wheel?

A Drexel-based project called MANTA has a fresh take on aquatic cleanup: it's like Roomba for water debris.

MANTA gobbling up some trash.

(Courtesy photo)

Students from Drexel University are working on a prototype that might just bring the spirit of Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel to Philly. (We <3 u, Mr. Trash Wheel.)

Drexel’s MANTA — short for “Multipurpose Aquatic Navigator and Trash Annihilator” — is a prototype made by Daniel Diazdelcastillo, Aryaman Sinha, Alexander Ly, Elisabeth Wagner and Nicholas Philips that aims to eliminate water debris. Using two propeller thrusters, the self-contained unit moves through water, gobbling up residue in its path and shredding to bits. It then compacts the waste and puts it in a removable bin.

The true game-changer is the prototype’s capacity to autonomously direct itself through the lake, river or pond it wants to cleanup. Using GPS and object detection, it creates the most optimal path to gobble up the trash.

Here’s a quick explainer video:

“As of right now, there is no direct plan to have a production build or start a business,” Diazdelcastillo told “All my team members and myself will be working full time after graduation but I will do anything I can to get a business and the product up and running. Hopefully I can work on the MANTA project soon full-time as a startup.”

The challenge, as you might expect, is finding the funds to get MANTA from prototype to reality. The team estimates that making a full-fledged model would run about $20,000.

“Everybody I have talked to or presented to says that they love the idea and see how it can change the world,” Diazdelcastillo said.

One word of advice for the young team? Make a Twitter account for MANTA right now, one that gives Mr. Trash Wheel’s a run for his money.

Roberto Torres

Roberto Torres became Lead Philly Reporter in May 2016. Prior, he was a freelance contributor to and Al Dia News. The native Venezuelan moved to Philadelphia in 2015 after reporting on research at his alma mater, the University of Zulia. Whenever he's not fencing deadlines, he can be found standing in line at Overbrook Pizza in West Philly, running Netflix/Hulu marathons with his wife or reading news from Venezuela.

  • Chris Alfano

    But can it have googly eyes?


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