Published on July 6th, 2012 | by Tina Casey3
Brain-Powered, Solar-Powered Recycling
Finland-based ZenRobotics Ltd. has been marketing a robotic recycling system that works like the human brain, and now another layer of sustainability is being slathered on top. In what is apparently a worldwide first, the Belgium recycling company Containers Maes will install the company’s ZenRobotics Recycler™ system and run it on solar power.
A Robotic Recycler that Works Like a Brain
Though Containers Maes has enthused that it was a “no-brainer” to choose the ZenRobotics Recycler, the heart of the system is its brain-like controlling technology.
Called the ZenRobotics Brain, the system was inspired by the cerebellum, which is responsible for the timing and coordination of movements. The ZenRobotics Brain uses at least six different types of sensory devices to provide the recycling system’s off-the-shelf robotic arms with a real-time stream of information that enables high-precision sorting.
That includes several different kinds of cameras as well as, 3-D scanners, tactile feedback, and metal detectors.
The ZenRobotics Brain is also capable of responding to changes as well as “learning” from its mistakes.
A Solar Power Solution for Recycling
One obstacle standing in the way of long-term sustainability for the bulk recycling industry is its heavy reliance on fossil-fueled vehicles and machinery.
The ZenRobotics Recycler, for example, involves an energy-sucking conveyor belt in addition to the energy required for running the robotic sorting arms and the controlling system.
The system does cut down on fuel use related to waste hauling, though. Designed to handle construction debris, the ZenRobotics Recycler is transportable and can be installed temporarily on site, eliminating the need to truck unsorted waste to a central facility.
The real “game-changer,” as Containers Maes puts it, is combining the recycling system with solar power and other forms of renewable energy.
Here in the U.S., the gigantic waste disposal and recycling company Waste Management has also been transitioning to alternative energy and energy efficient technology, including its “BigBelly” solar powered trash compactor and various landfill gas initiatives.
Note: Check out YouTube to see the ZenRobotics Recycler in action, check out their YouTube video.
Image (cropped): Courtesy of ZenRobotics.
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