AI-powered robot that rapidly sorts through recyclables is going global

Before plastic can become recycled products, that plastic needs to be manually sorted by workers at a recycling center.

The problem is that recycling centers can’t afford to hire the number of people needed to sort through all the plastic they receive each day, and even if they could afford it, most people don’t want to spend up to 40 hours a week sorting through trash. In fact, recycling centers have a huge turnover rate, with many people quitting hours after starting the job.

Enter AMP Robotics, a Colorado-based startup that has created an AI-powered recycling robot that can sort through recyclables twice as fast as its human counterparts. The robot is essentially a large hollow box that hangs on a steel frame over a conveyor belt.

As reported by FreeThink, a camera feeds a stream of the recyclables passing below the bot to an AI software program, which has been trained to recognize different types of items with 99 percent accuracy. The AI has been trained to identify different items and use a suction cup on one of its three hands to pick up the recyclables and place them in the appropriate bins. Beyond the fact that the robot doesn’t burn out like humans, AMP’s robot also keeps a list of every item it recognizes and shares that list at the end of the day, allowing recycling centers to compile data about the types of materials they are receiving. 

When we first wrote about AMP Robotics in 2019, its trash-sorting robots had not been deployed at many recycling centers. Today, we can report that AMP has deployed hundreds of the robots at facilities across three continents and 20 states. That number is only expected to grow after AMP announced last week that it has secured another $55 million in funding.

Image source: AMP Robotics

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