Here in Vermont, the local waste management company hires day laborers to sort garbage for recyclable materials. They work long hours and come home smelling like rotting trash. A company named ZenRobotics has created a robot that uses an articulating arm to pick up construction waste and identify waste that can be recycled. It picks up the material, scans it, and moves it aside.
The robot uses tactile sensors, weight measurement, 3-D scanning and spectrometer analysis to determine material type. It then pulls the material off a conveyor belt to be recycled. Anything left on the conveyor belt is assumed to be waste.
Currently, all construction materials are treated as waste. However much of the material is metal or plastic, meaning it can be recycled using conventional technology. The robot can currently detect about 50% of recyclable materials. But imagine the possibilities as the robot learns to make more accurate decisions. By learn, I mean be taught. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Source