The sorting of waste in treatment facilities is currently carried out manually by workers who perform this activity continuously for many hours each day. The work, as well as being tiring, does not always produce the best results, given the inevitability of human error.
We developed an ad-hoc system of robotic picking for the sorting of waste arriving from city markets and large-scale retail outlets. The system trialled was designed as a low-cost solution using both open-source technologies and those already available on the market.
The system comprises a visual component, capable of recognising different types of material, and a robotic arm that can intercept and lift material as it passes along conveyor belts inside the treatment facility, adapting itself to the different sizes and other material characteristics.
The picking system offers many advantages:
The pilot project was successfully concluded, demonstrating that the robotic systems can function as fast as or faster than an operator while maintaining a comparable level of precision in terms of the picking up and recognition of the material. These results are such as to justify continuation of the development and implementation of the robot picking solution in other facilities and on other material flows.