Real life Wall-E: Robots that recycle

Living on Earth

Story by Living on Earth. Listen to audio above for full story.

Roll over Wall-E. “Waste-Allocation-Load-Lifters” are not just science fiction anymore.

The Finnish research group ZenRobotics, which specializes in artificial intelligence and recycling solutions, is designing a sophisticated robot that can sort recycling without the help of human hands.

“The robot is designed to sort waste from construction and demolition sites, but it doesn’t roam the junkyard on wheels and sift through rubble like Wall-E,” reports Living on Earth’s Sean Faulk. A stationary installation, the robot has long mechanical arms that can pluck away waste from the site–being able to differentiate between materials such as wood, glass, plastic and concrete. The robot can also remove dangerous contaminants, such as those found in radioactive materials.

Not only is the machine capable, but it is efficient. Needing little maintenance, this robot can work 24 hours a day. By adding such a robot to a construction team, Faulk contends the robot’s inorganic nature could “relieve the occupational hazards from toxic substances and sharp or heavy objects that threaten human sorters every day.”

Hosted by Steve Curwood, “Living on Earth” is an award-winning environmental news program that delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit. More about “Living on Earth.”

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