It’s old news now, but a couple of months ago SITA Finland, a subsidiary of Europe’s largest environmental services provider, and ZenRobotics, a Finnish environmental high technology company, announced their collaboration on a robotic artificial intelligence recycling system. The ZenRobotics Recycler that SITA will receive is the first of its kind in the world.
ZenRobotics has developed a sorting system which separates raw materials from waste. The control technology utilises multiple sensor inputs in real time, reacts to changes and learns from its mistakes. The sensors can include various camera types (visible light, spectrometric cameras), 3D scanners, haptics (touch), transillumination, metal detectors, etc. The company claims that it provides a more comprehensive view of the waste stream than previously possible.
The company takes its environmental concerns seriously. The corporate headquarters are in downtown Helsinki, to allow employees to commute by bike or public transport, and the company only uses repurposed office furniture and recycles office waste. In selecting robot manufacturer partners, emphasis is placed on their environmental responsibility and it also actively supports the WWF's Operation Mermaid and the Clean Baltic Sea projects.
ZenRobotics is a start-up company, formed in 2007, but looks like it’s going places. Apart from the technology itself, the two most impressive aspects for me are, firstly, that of the 18 employees, nine have PhDs. Secondly, it’s clear that this is a company with a sense of humour, a rare and wonderful thing!