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Unfortunately, the issue of plastic waste and the resulting microplastics, which have now infested the globe even in the remotest corners, is one of the many construction sites that mankind has brought upon itself since the beginning of industrialisation through carelessness, ignorance and lobbying. Recycling, which has long been favoured as a means of waste avoidance, is showing initial success - but it still needs to be much, much better. This is what researchers at Aalen University said to themselves and initiated a new research project called "Recyclebot". The goal is to develop a new type of waste processing that can recycle plastic waste more efficiently and in a more environmentally friendly way. The robot to be realised for the project is to sort waste particularly quickly and efficiently in the future, thus enabling a higher quality in the recycling of plastic waste.

Broad support for an ambitious project

The project is supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV), which is contributing almost two million euros as part of a funding initiative. The initiators are also relying on cooperation with the local waste management company GOA and the technical partners wesort.ai, green Delta and Holzer. The collaborative recycling robot at the centre of the development is to automatically recognise, sort and process waste with the help of sensors and equipped with artificial intelligence (AI). The goal is to recycle waste that is virtually unmixed and to achieve higher quality in the recycling of plastic waste.

Technology takes over the delicate tasks

By using collaborative robotics, it should also be possible for humans and machines to cooperate side by side, with the cobot being assigned the dangerous or strenuous tasks in particular. "We are proud to be part of this important research project," says Prof. Dr. Iman Taha, one of the project leaders. "By developing the Recyclebot, we can make an important contribution to protecting our environment and at the same time create new jobs in waste management." And her colleague Prof. Dr. Doris Aschenbrenner adds: "Artificial intelligence and collaborative robotics are important factors for the work of the future. If we explore these topics in a participatory way with the people who will ultimately work together with AI and robots, we open up new possibilities for a technically advanced and socially just world of work."