A pilot program led by the Carton Council, AMP Robotics, and a Colorado recycling facility, Alpine Waste & Recycling, is teaching robots how to make recycling more efficient. This new robotic system, AMP’s Cortex, learns to identify and then grab food and beverage cartons using the latest technology in robotics and artificial intelligence. The robot is continually learning to recognize the various types of food and beverage cartons, allowing for the system to currently meet accuracy levels of existing solutions. This learned information can be transferred to robots at other MRFs. Cortex has specially designed grips to pick up and separate the cartons, which are sold and made into new paper products and green building materials. The system has the ability to sort at super-human speeds, diverting material for re-processing that might otherwise be lost to a landfill.
The AMP Cortex, nicknamed "Clarke," has spider-like arms with specially designed grippers to pick up and separate cartons at a materials recovery facility. (Credit: Business Wire)
This innovation has wide spread implications for the recycling industry as it can be adapted to other materials, including to pick out contaminants. Cortex uses artificial intelligence to learn as it goes and is therefore constantly improving its accuracy and expanding its library of materials. The system has a large memory capacity, and can be taught to handle new materials. This is a long-term solution for effectively recycling the ever-growing number of different packaging materials and formats in the recycling stream. Cortex also has the potential to learn how to identify and pick out contaminants, helping to improve one of the biggest issues the recycling industry is facing.
AMP Robotics truly appreciates the support and patronage of the Carton Council North America and Alpine Waste & Recycling. This pilot project began at Alpine in 2016 and could eventually be expanded to other MRFs. For more information on this project, see the Carton Council’s press release and the detailed article in Resource Recycling.