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AI-driven robot learns to identify food and beverage cartons

PKBR Staff Writer Published 21 March 2017

The Carton Council of North America has announced the success of a program that is using artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic systems to collect cartons more efficiently at the Alpine Waste & Recycling's material recovery facility in Denver.

AMP Robotics and Alpine Waste & Recycling, through a collaboration led by the Carton Council, have used a robotic system to identify several food and beverage cartons and grab and separate them from the recycling stream.

The AMP Cortex, nicknamed “Clarke” after the sci-fi author and futurist Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, has spider-like arms with specially designed grippers to pick up and separate cartons at a materials recovery facility (MRF).

The program secured funding from the council, which includes Elopak, SIG Combibloc, Evergreen Packaging, Tetra Pak, and Nippon Dynawave Packaging.

Carton Council of North America recycling projects vice-president Jason Pelz said: “Clarke greatly expands opportunities for the carton industry as we work to increase the efficiency of carton recycling and, ultimately, divert more cartons from landfills.

“Everything Clarke has learned about identifying cartons can be transferred to robots at other MRFs.

“We are excited to bring innovation to carton recycling and believe this technology has widespread implications for the recycling industry, as it can be adapted to other materials.”

AMP Robotics founder Matanya Horowitz said that Clarke provides a new approach to sorting recyclables and a cost-effective way for facilities to introduce new packaging that does not always have a large volume.

Horowitz added: “Additionally, unique grippers can be developed to identify and pick contaminants, which is one of the biggest issues our industry currently faces.”


Image: The new robotic arm designed to sort cartons for recycling. Photo: courtesy of Carton Council of North America.