Robots will sort our waste if we fail to do so. The first ever automated waste sorting plant in St. Petersburg is to be put into operation soon in Frunzensky District.
Artificial intelligence is expected to improve the share of recycled materials from 5% to 70%. Saint-Petersburg TV Channel’s Milena Ikonnikova found out how it works.
Technologically, waste is first ground, and then ferrous metal elements are separated in a magnetic separator. After that, organic waste is separated from non-organics. Organics are processed, and non-organics are sorted by robots into 42 categories like plastic or aluminum, taking into account even the colour of waste.
Milena Ikonnikova, reporter, tells: ‘Look at this camera. It can make up to 400 pictures a second. The robot gets the pictures and makes a decision whether to grab the waste.’
The algorithm was tested on dozens of thousands of pictures. The robot sorter is as efficient as three, or, even, six people. Besides, robots need no sick leaves, vacations, or other benefits. They are ideal employees, developed by a St. Petersburg team. The developers say, a robot pays back in just 18 months. Artificial intelligence can sort any objects, not necessarily waste.
Yevgeny Gudov, Planetarium 1 project leader, NeuroCycle project co-founder, explains: ‘The main problem for implementing robots in Russia is expensive integration. You pay 2-3-4 million for the robot and spend another 7 million on integrating it into the process. This is the reason why robots are not very popular in Russia. Here, you have a readymade solution you can adjust to your needs. I believe these robots are going be used in many spheres soon.’
Waste that cannot be recycled is made into fuel. Sorted waste is sold for recycling. The rest is pressed and packed, and carried to a landfill. When the plant is fully operable, it will sort up to a fourth of all the municipal solid waste.
Photo: St. Petersburg TV channel