One of the world’s largest robotics manufacturers, Fanuc, is breaking into the waste management industry by partnering with intelligent waste management startup Recycleye. Over the past 12 the months, Recycleye has combined its validated AI computer vision technology with Fanuc’s 60 years of experience in automation, to deploy and scale Recycleye Robotics, an artificial intelligence powered robotic waste-picking system.
To date, the limited availability of scalable recognition technologies has pushed the waste management industry towards a reliance on manual waste pickers to identify and extract high value materials. However, in recent years, the economic efficiency of manual sorting has been challenged due to increased stringency in international quality standards on the purity of imported recycled waste. As such, the demand for an affordable automated sorting solution to ensure purity standards are met, is rising. Together, Fanuc and Recycleye have addressed that demand to deliver intelligent automation to the industry.
Material recovery facilities have been automating waste sorting through the installation of robotic waste pickers. Although automated pickers have improved the rate and quality of recovered waste, existing systems carry high capital and retrofit costs, preventing many recycling facilities from fully automating their waste sorting operations. Without automated sorting in all material recovery facilities, the UK’s recycling rates will continue to decline.
Recycleye Robotics performs the physical tasks of identifying, picking and placing material, at a rate of 55 successful picks per minute. The novel solution automates current manual operations and enables facilities to double their total throughput. Fanuc’s team of expert automation engineers designed Recycleye Robotics to weigh 75% less than any existing robotic waste picker currently in the market. The plug-and-play installation eliminates traditional expensive retrofit costs.
Oliver Selby, Robotics Business Development Manager at Fanuc UK commented: “As a provider of unrivalled electric injection moulding solutions, Fanuc acknowledges that increasing the use of recyclates available for the manufacturing of new plastic products is a priority for the development of a circular economy. By integrating Recycleye’s robotic picker into its repertoire, FANUC can be proud to be delivering affordable automation to the recycling industry.”
Recycleye Robotics is powered by Recycleye Vision, an AI vision system, which has been deployed across the UK and French markets, exceeding human vision in identifying and classifying all items on waste streams - by material, object and even brand. Recycleye Vision works to constantly train and learn new object detection, enabling for the robotic waste picking system to adapt to changing waste composition without any need for manual upgrades.
Yann Glauser, Lead Hardware Engineer at Recycleye added: “Recycleye’s intelligent robotic picker is creating long-term value for our clients, working consistently to increase throughput and reduce the cost of recycling. Our partnership with Fanuc is leveraging world leading expertise in robotic solutions to develop the most effective automated solution for waste sorting.”
The modular robotic picking system has already been deployed at two UK material recovery facilities, on multiple plastic and paper sorting lines, and deployments in France are scheduled for later this year. Having installed over 700,000 robots worldwide in different markets, Fanuc will utilise their expertise to help lead the global rollout of the Recycleye robotic pickers. Recycleye and Fanuc’s intelligent robotic system is creating a new wave of intelligent and affordable automation in the waste management industry.