Spanish innovation to one side, there is also robotic innovation coming out of Finland that has been focusing on construction & demolition (C&D) waste. When WMW magazine spoke to ZenRobotics in 2011 for its article entitled Rise of the Machines: Robot Recycling, the company’s “claw” based AI was being trialled in a SITA Finland plant sorting C&D waste. Since then, the company has grown at a fast rate, with its robots now deployed in the Netherlands, Switzerland, France and Japan. Most recently the company signed an agreement with the Blue Group in the UK.
“During the last two years we have met a lot of plant operators and spread the word about robotic sorting,” says Timo Taalas, CEO of ZenRobotics. “They are now more used to the idea that robots can be used in this application.”
Rather than target municipal, small and light weight, ZenRobotics originally designed its AI, or “brain” as we referred to it in the original article, to handle C&D waste. Instead of using suction to lift bottles like Sadako, it’s using a claw type gripper to lift heavier wastes.
A big development for the company, the CEO tells WMW, was the development of a second version of its technology. Called the “Next Generation ZenRobotics Recycler (ZRR)”, it can lift heavier objects and was developed in 2014.
“First of all we changed the robot model, which gave a performance boost of 50-80%, increasing picking speed and the ability to pick heavier objects,” adds Taalas. “The biggest improvement has been the reliability of the system. Treating heavy objects like 20kg stones is a demanding task for a robot. Now we have a robot that can really survive in that type of environment.”