We have spent a good bit of time in this blog talking about what can and cannot be recycled, how and where to recycle, and general rules surrounding the process. It may seem like overkill, but to be fair, the guidelines are confusing and the regulations can be very stringent; it doesn’t help that those factors can also change by municipality. All this lends to American’s recycling only about 34% of their total waste, and a whopping 25% of what does get recycled is so contaminated, it gets sent to landfills anyway. Thankfully technology is yet again catching up and may be able to help save the day.
The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT has been developing a robot with tactile sensors to sort through recycling by touch. They have named it RoCycle and it boasts an impressive accuracy rate at 85% stationary and 63% when on a live line. This robot is a bit akin to Googles TossingBot which, well, is a tossing robot. It throws materials based on size and shape into separated containers, of course this can be used for recycling as well.
Hopefully in the future, these types of innovations can ease our recycling woes and automate the industry.