Robots Come For Recycling Centers, Displacing Workers
AMP Robotics, an artificial intelligence and robotics company that is automating the recycling industry, has rolled out new trash-picking robots for recycling centers that will replace countless low-skilled jobs, reported The WSJ.
Single Stream Recyclers (SSR) in Sarasota, Florida, which processes 350 tons of waste per day, said last week that it would add eight AMP trash-picking robots to its already six. “Robots are the future of the recycling industry. Our investment with AMP is vital to our goal of creating the most efficient recycling operation possible, while producing the highest value commodities for resale,” said John Hansen co-owner of SSR.
AMP robots are more productive than humans, can sort garbage more accurately and faster, are set to eliminate most human sorter jobs at SSR’s Florida facility in the coming years.
“AMP’s robots are highly reliable and can consistently pick 70-80 items a minute as needed, twice as fast as humanly possible and with greater accuracy. This will help us lower cost, remove contamination, increase the purity of our commodity bales, divert waste from the landfill, and increase overall recycling rates,” said Eric Konik co-owner of SSR.
Hanson said, “It’s 95 degrees, they’re [human sorters] standing on a platform and sorting,” adding that AMP robots are “twice as fast and they don’t make mistakes.”
Kerry Sandford, a senior consultant with Resource Recycling Systems in Ann Arbor, Michigan, told the Journal that less than 5% of the residential recycling centers in North America are automated.
AMP robots are controlled by the AMP Neuron AI platform to perform tasks. AMP Neuron uses cameras and machine learning to identify different colors, textures, shapes, sizes, and patterns to identify material characteristics.
The robots have been trained to pick out water bottles, beer cans, milk jugs, food cartons, and other items—whether they are intact, dented, or crushed.
Using computer vision, sensors scan the trash on a conveyor belt to detect materials. The robot uses a suction cup that can throw the recyclables into the appropriate bin by using reverse air pressure to blow them out.