RoCycle Sorts Recycling by Touch

RoCycle Sorts Recycling by Touch
The RoCycle robotic can identify different types of material with impressive accuracy, and could help to automate recycling operations.

Developed by a team from MIT and Yale, the RoCycle unit attaches to any third party robotic arm, where it can differentiate between paper, plastic and metal through touch alone. As the RoCycle’s pair of grippy fingers pick up an object, the embedded pressure sensors detect the object’s stiffness and size—allowing it to determine if the material is plastic or paper. The sensors are also conductive, and so can detect metal by changes in the electrical signal.

The RoCycle has proven 85 percent accurate at identifying the three materials when stationary, and 63 percent accurate when the objects were moving on a conveyor belt.

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