AI News, This robot can sort recycling by giving it a squeeze

This robot can sort recycling by giving it a squeeze

Greasy pizza box, takeaway coffee cup, plastic yogurt pot—are they trash or recycling?

In many plants, grease-soaked cardboard or cups lined with polyethylene cannot be recycled and thus head for landfill—often taking a batch of other recycling with them.

One US waste processing company has reported that25% of all recycling it receives is so contaminated it must be sent straight to landfills.Meanwhile, the amount of household waste rejected for recycling in Englandincreased by 84%between 2011-2012 and 2014-2015, according to government figures.

Many large recycling centers already use magnets to pull out metals, and air filters to separate paper from heavier plastics.

So Lillian Chin and her colleagues at theComputer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT have developed a robot arm with soft grippers that picks up objects from a conveyor belt and identifies what they are made from by touch.

Chin thinks that such robots could be used in places like apartment blocks or on university campuses to carry out first-pass sorting of people’s recycling, cutting down on contamination.

“You can’t really rely on image alone to tell you what’s going on.” “The idea is neat—humans receive a lot of feedback from touch,” says Harri Holopainen at ZenRobotics, a company based in Helsinki, Finland, that makes vision-based robotic waste sorters.