Irish startup REEUSE Robotics is crowdfunding for a computer vision robot module designed to assist with the classification of waste for recycling: the REEUSE Robotic Sorting Module
"Did you know that in a country with a population like Ireland, each individual produces an average 367KG of household waste annually," explains Hossein Javidnia of the problem the company is trying to solve. "Recycling is one of the best ways we can make a positive impact. Recycling not only reduces the amount of landfill, but also contributes to raw materials which conserves the existing resources. With proper recycling, we could reduce global warming, conserve our resources, save energy and protect the environment."
"For proper recycling, the most important task is to separate the items into various categories (such as glass, plastic, paper, etc.). In addition, if we could eliminate non-recyclable items among these categories (such as bottles with food in it), we could remove manual sorting and aid the subsequent sorting and recycling process. For this, we are introducing a robotic module utilizing a multispectral imaging component and an AI engine to classify different categories of waste."
The module itself features three primary sensors: A visible-light RGB camera sensor, an infrared proximity sensor, and a thermal sensor. Data from these cares are fed into an on-board neural network which classifies objects by their type: Metal, plastic, paper, cardboard, and so on. When materials have been detected, the arm reaches out and picks them up to separate them into piles — and the system can even tell when materials are contaminated by not being properly washed prior to sorting.
The company has reached the point of having a functional AI model for the system, but is seeking funds to build a functional prototype of the robot part of the system. While backers funding the project won't receive a robot in return — "this is not a consumer oriented product," Javidnia explains, "and we cannot deliver this module to each individual" — a selection of small rewards has been put together for backers starting at €5 (around $6).
Full details can be found on the project's Kickstarter campaign page.