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Glacier is training AI-powered recycling robots


The future of recycling is here, and of course, it involves robots and artificial intelligence.

Rebecca Hu, the co-founder of the robotics company Glacier, creates robots that help recycling plants separate and, well, recycle material.

Before, sorting recyclable materials was a manual job that took hours for someone to do. Today, Glacier has been using AI cameras so that robots can better identify recyclable materials. Hu said training the robots to spot materials was akin to teaching a toddler how to tell two things apart. “If you give them 100, 1,000, a million examples of aluminum cans, they get pretty good at pattern matching,” she told Found.

The robots are also trained on what not to pick up. This is where Hu told us that those thin plastic grocery bags are actually not recyclable. “It contaminates everything,” she said, adding that the robots are trained to pull it out and send it back to the landfill. This gave way to the concept of “wish-cycling,” which is the process of someone throwing out something without exactly knowing if it belongs in the trash or the recycling bin. Hu said these wish-cyclers actually do more harm than good, and if anyone is on the fence about an item, it’s always better to just put it in the trash.

And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for — Hu also told us that the robots indeed have names. But you have to listen to the episode to see what famous songstress some robots take their name from. Enjoy the episode!

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Miranda Cosgrove

My Miranda cosgrove is an accomplished article writer with a flair for crafting engaging and informative content. With a deep curiosity for various subjects and a dedication to thorough research, Miranda cosgrove brings a unique blend of creativity and accuracy to every piece.

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