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Robotics specialist FANUC breaks into recycling industry through partnership with Recycleye

Recycleye AI-powered robotic waste-picking system at work

FANUC, one of the world's largest robotics manufacturers, is breaking into the waste management industry by partnering with intelligent waste management start-up Recycleye. Over the past year, Recycleye has combined its validated AI computer vision technology with FANUC's experience in automation, to deploy and scale Recycleye Robotics, an AI-powered robotic waste-picking system.

To date, the limited availability of scalable recognition technologies has pushed the waste management industry towards a reliance on manual waste pickers to identify and extract high value materials. 

In recent years, the economic efficiency of manual sorting has been challenged due to increased stringency in international quality standards on the purity of imported recycled waste. As such, the demand for an affordable automated sorting solution to ensure purity standards are met, is rising. 

Material recovery facilities have been automating waste sorting through the installation of robotic waste pickers. Although automated pickers have improved the rate and quality of recovered waste, existing systems carry high capital and retrofit costs, preventing many recycling facilities from fully automating their waste sorting operations. Without automated sorting in all material recovery facilities, recycling rates will continue to decline.  

Recycleye Robotics performs the physical tasks of identifying, picking and placing material, at a rate of 55 successful picks per minute. The novel solution automates current manual operations and enables facilities to double their total throughput. FANUC's engineers designed Recycleye Robotics to weigh 75 percent less than any existing robotic waste picker currently in the market. The plug-and-play installation eliminates traditional expensive retrofit costs.

The modular robotic picking system has already been deployed at two UK material recovery facilities, on multiple plastic and paper sorting lines, and deployments in France are scheduled for later this year. Having installed over 700,000 robots worldwide in different markets, FANUC will utilize their expertise to help lead the global rollout of the Recycleye robotic pickers.