Peter Kohler, founder of The Plastic Tide project, and Dr. Stefan Leutenegger, Lecturer in Robotics at the Imperial College London, visit Google to discuss how the ocean is under siege from an ever-increasing tide of waste, and how technology like machine learning and drones can help us fix the issue. Plastics are threatening not only a vital economic resource worth an estimated $5 trillion a year, but also humanity’s very own life support. Oceanic plastic waste is growing by 8 million metric tonnes a year. If nothing is done, it is estimated that this figure will rise to 80 million metric tonnes a year by 2025. It consists of all sizes of plastics, with larger pieces taking at least 400 years to break down into fragments known as microplastics. These and other tiny pieces of plastic, like microbeads, accumulate into a toxic oceanic soup that recent estimates put at 15 to 50 trillion pieces. Solving this problem is becoming a major priority for scientists. But without further knowledge, it is impossible to identify trends, support legislation, monitor improvement, or develop strategies to reduce plastic pollution if we don’t have evidence of when, where and how the plastics are distributed. That’s why Peter Kohler founded The Plastic Tide initiative in 2015, with the aim of quantifying the problem using drone imagery of beaches in England & beyond. By raising awareness and generating precise data, Kohler is hoping to drive solutions at societal, political, and technological levels. He has already collected a huge database of drone imagery around British beaches, and a prototype algorithm he developed combines a deep-learning based plastic detection scheme in drone images with geo-referenced mapping. Visit http://g.co/TalksAtGoogle/PlasticTide to watch the video.