ZenRobotics Sorts Trash With Artificial Intelligence

The founders of ZenRobotics are determined to take trash sorting to a whole new level. The European Union alone sees 3 billion tons of waste each year and the regional construction industry generates 900 million tons of demolition waste annually.


(ZenRobotics AI trash sorting robot)

The robots weigh trash as they lift pieces and calculate the price a piece could be redeemed for. There are also infrared scanners and metal detectors built into the system as well.

“These are the same kinds of robots that are used in Volkswagen factories,” Peltomaa said. “They are standard industrial robots. They are honed to be really reliable. What we are developing behind them is artificial intelligence software.”

They can also maintain the systems remotely so they can monitor if any parts in the system are starting to wear down ahead of time.

Peltomaa says that a client might normally pay 100 euros to get rid of a ton of waste. But if they can pick out a ton of metal, then they can sell that for about 250 euros.

The company has sold five units so far since they only started about a year ago, and believe that the total market size globally for what they make is about 8,000 units. They put together the systems locally in Finland and then deliver them to the customer.

Harry Harrison wrote about Intelligent Trash Sorting in his 1956 short story The Velvet Glove:

"Robots pick up the garbage and junk and load it in there," he said. "Then they press one of these here thirteen buttons keying whatever they have dumped into one of the thirteen bins inside the truck. They're just plain lifting robots and not too brainy, but good enough to recognize most things they pick up...

As good as I'm sure this system is, I'll bet that there will be a few items that the ZenRobotics trash-sorting robot fails to recognize. For that, Harrison proposes Human Object Recognition.

From ZenRobotics via Techcrunch.

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