Watch: Recycling Robot That Can Actually Sort Plastic & Metal By Touch
Developed by researchers at MITCSAIL, this robotis going to revolutionize the recycling industry and will actually help us with our waste and trash management problem.
If you have seen ever someone sorting out different materials for recycling, you know how tedious and engaging it can be. Most recycling and sorting is done by hand since we still don’t have an automated system that can replace the sensation of touch. But, as we careen into the future, even this simple problem is being solved.
The researchers at the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MITCSAIL) have developed a robot called the RoCycle that can sort out materials just by touching and feeling the various textures of different provisions. As seen in the video, it sorts out paper, plastic and metal just by grabbing it.
The hands of the RoCycle are made up of an Electric Soft Robotic Gripper with High-Deformation Haptic Feedback, which are essentially sensors that can detect high-deformation strain and pressure. As humans use their hands to get feedback regardingthe density and feel of an object (metal, paper or plastic) this robot can also sense materials using its soft flexible hands. It also has sensors to measure the conductivity of a particular material, which helps it identify metal objects.
A study published by MIT scientists say that the robot is able to identify different objects’ size to within 33% of its actual radius and sort objects as hard/soft with 78% accuracy. The RoCycle is able to measure its own deformation which helps in increasing its accuracy in sensing objects and materials.
According to the researchers, the RoCycle has 85% accuracy when objects are stationary and 63 % on a simulated conveyor belt. So, the accuracy could still be tweaked to make it more functional and less error-free so that we can use it in our daily routines. The benefits, as we can foresee, are immense. The only real downside to this fascinating technology is that a lot of people are going to lose their jobs as a consequence of complete robotic automation. This is a real and looming problem that we, as a species, have to figure out.
The next step though, is to actually perfect this technology and maybe even have robots sense liquids and other such perishable items. The future application of this tech seems endless at this moment. Imagine a robot that can actually ‘feel’. When does it stop being a machine, at that point? We will find out soon enough.