Recycling Robot Uses Lasers to Sort Plastic

by , 03/03/10

sustainable design, waste reduction, osaka university, recycling robot, plastic, recycling, green design

Osaka University recently unveiled a recycling robot that uses lasers to sort out different types of plastics. The robot, designed by IDEC, the Photonics Advanced Research Center, and Mitsubishi Electric Engineering, has laser “eyes” and sensors that can distinguish between six different types of plastics for easier recycling.

The idea isn’t as silly as it first seems. Most plastics are recyclable, but only about 6% end up in recycling bins. The reason: it’s hard to distinguish between recyclable and non-recyclable plastics by the naked eye alone. And that’s where the 5ft 6in by 6ft 9in laser-equipped robot comes in. The lifesize robot won’t be in a home near you any time soon–it costs $55,000. But eventually, Osaka University researchers hope to produce a smaller version that could sit pretty next to your recycling and compost bins.

+ Osaka University


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  1. recycle85 June 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    this recycling robot is of course used in the sorting facility. curbside collection robots will need more features like mobility and cuteness. my company has already designed a community collector and curbside robots. but to do this perfectly we will need a more robust ai and vision system.

  2. EGriffen March 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    i think something like this would make more sense in a building that gets a lot of traffic, a city street, or other public space. places like these consume and produce much more waste, so the technology would be put to its best use. i also wonder if a machine like this could separate trash (ie non-plastic products)…that seems to be the real problem with recycling; the recycling bins i see are almost always overflowing with a mixture of trash and various plastic bottles. still, pretty cool.

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