April 16, 2010
FEATURE | Demolition/Environmental Engineering
Finnish researchers work on robot for sorting demolition waste
The demolition industry is using remote-controlled machines more often in an effort to improve productivity in the face of environmental regulations.
For the most part they are brute machines, but a new, “smart” robot is on the horizon that may take over the tine-consuming task of categorizing demolition waste.
Driven by software, it’s similar to those home vacuums and floor scrubber robots on the market. The Recycler is a robot being developed by Tuomas J. Lukka and a team of researchers in Finland.
It uses data from a number of sources — visual sensors, metal detectors, weight measurements and tactile feedback from a robotic arm — to identify and categorize waste.
Much of the machine’s training consists of trial and error. So far it has been taught to spot about a dozen types of material, including different plastics. It can also pluck out metal, wood and concrete from a stream of waste as it moves along a conveyor belt.
The machine can also identify material by colour and drop it into the appropriate bin and can separate clean plywood from plywood with nails.
So far it is about 50 per cent accurate.
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