The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry has partnered with an intelligent waste management start-up to develop a robotic waste picker.
The solution combines London-based Recycleye’s vision system with AI and robotics to sort waste efficiently.
The picking system detects all items on waste streams and can identify materials, items and brands using a library of over two million waste images.
As a modular, automated sorting solution, the picker adapts to changing waste composition without the need to retrofit.
Matthew Arnold, software engineer at Recycleye, said: “Working with the MTC has been pivotal in helping Recycleye move closer to achieving its mission to accelerate the world’s transition towards a circular economy.
“The low cost of Recycleye’s picker is de-risking the automation process for the waste management industry, enabling more materials to be recycled.
“The deployment of Recycleye’s robotic waste picker successfully mitigates the risks and costs associated with manual sorting.”
Arnold added the picker can increase total throughput of material recovery facilities by up to 110% as the robot picker works continuously.
Mike Wilson, chief automation officer at MTC, said: “Successful automation used to require a very structured approach with consistent parts and controlled presentation.
“The application of robots to recycling demonstrates the ability to handle much more varied parts and conditions and undertake mundane, unpleasant tasks which really should be automated.”
The team said it hoped to scale from research and development to industrialisation with the robotic picker installed at waste plants this year.