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The future of robots in the waste management industry

Written by

Neil Martin

Neil Martin

There is a huge future for robots in the waste management industry. 

The waste management industry is arguably slow to the robotics and automation show, but things are gradually changing as it begins to see the benefits of adopting modern technology.

Currently, robots are mostly used to separate waste, which is the key to modern recycling. In its ‘raw’ form, waste is just one mass of man made materials, such as plastics, glass and metal, and natural materials such as garden waste and, er, not sure how to say this properly, ‘doings.’ 

So, robots are increasingly being used to sort waste at the point where it is first handling. This is a job for robots equipped with machine vision. The vision system, coupled with an artificial intelligence functionality, enables the robot to work at a conveyor belt, sifting waste into various bins. Not only can robots do this very efficiently and very quickly, they remove the need for human workers to be removed not only from the unpleasant job of having to handle waste, but also from being exposed to potentially toxic materials. 

The next step is to switch from being reactive at the point where the waste is first handled on mass, to proactive, at the point where the waste is first generated. And this is where artificial intelligence comes in.

Take the work being carried out on intelligent rubbish bins. These will, in future, be able to sort out waste immediately, which means that collections will be made on the type of waste and whether it can be recycled or not, and what ultimately happens to it.

The future of the waste management industry is very much linked to robotics and automation. 

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