Re3, along with its contractor FCC Environment, partnered with waste management start up Recycleye to install the system, which it claims is the “first of its kind”.
The robot was installed this month and is currently undertaking a testing period at the facility.
According to re3, the waste-picking robot, known as Recycleye Robotics, is able to perform the physical tasks of identifying, picking and placing materials at a rate of “55 successful picks per minute”.
It is powered by Recycleye Vision, an AI computer vision system, which detects all individual items on waste streams by material and object.
Recycleye jointly develops the robotics with Japanese manufacturer FANUC, with the aim of exceeding human performance and doubling facility throughput.
At the Reading facility, it sits on top of the facility’s existing conveyor belts, which should provide the facility with “total visibility” on its waste streams.
A joint statement from re3’s Joint Waste Disposal Board, said: “We are extremely pleased to be partnering with Recycleye to implement the first of its kind AI robot in England at our site in Reading. As a partnership, our vision is to provide residents with a high performing service that benefits the whole re3 community, the introduction of this exciting technology is a key step in helping us do that,”
Commenting on the announcement, FCC Environment’s general manager for re3 Rory Brien added: “We are thrilled to have installed the first AI-powered waste robot in England on behalf of re3. In our commitment to continual improvement and innovation at FCC Environment, we believe that it is important to be forward-thinking and adapt to new technologies, especially when it will help to improve the efficiency of the recycling progress.”
The technology by Recycleye was developed by students at Imperial College London, who used Al-powered cameras to identify recyclable objects and what they are made of, enabling them to be automatically sorted at waste facilities by material, brand and object (see letsrecycle.com story).
Victor Dewulf, CEO of Recycleye explained: “The installation of Recycleye Robotics at re3’s Reading facility showcases how such technology can deliver genuine benefits to local authorities and waste management companies across the UK. Recycleye has partnered with FANUC, one of the world’s largest robotic manufacturers, to develop a retrofittable and affordable automated sorting solution for the waste management industry.”