Spain’s Ferrovial is working with Finnish startup ZenRobotics, Germany’s Wuppertal Institute and Danish consulting firm NTU to test the performance of a robot that can identify and sort municipal waste. The pilot, occurring in Ferrovial’s sorting facility in Barcelona, began this fall and will continue for 21 months. Two robots, called heavy pickers, will use artificial intelligence to analyze the waste and employ a robotic arm to sort oversized objects from municipal solid waste. The robot has previously been used to recover and sort construction and demolition waste. “The technology allows us to recover more materials with a higher quality while minimizing the risk of accidents involving people,” says Vincente Galván of Ferrovial. Robots are expected to transform the design of waste treatment plants by reducing the length of conveyor belts. NTU will assess the success and impact of the project and Wuppertal will help implement and test the robot. There is no cost available for the project, which is partially funded by Climate-KIC, a public-private partnership addressing climate change.

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