What is the most popular use for robots in the waste sector?
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 though, 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.’ If you have ever gone looking through a rubbish bin, hopefully finding something you’ve lost and not for any other reason, then it's particularly unpleasant and is a microcosm of what you found at a main council tip.
Waste is pretty unpleasant. So a body such as a council has two main considerations. The more it can separate waste into its composite parts, the better. A lot of waste can be successfully recycled. For example, metals can be melted down and turned back into product again - they shouldn’t be sent to the landfill.
So, given all that, 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 visionsystem, 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.
Long live the waste management robot.