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.