If you’ve ever lived or been to Japan, then you might be aware of how particular the country’s recycling system is, but for the most part, people who are born and raised there or who have lived there long enough are familiar with the system and it is more or less second nature. For those who don’t come from countries that enforce recycling, getting into the habit can be confusing.

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However, it seems that researchers over at MIT’s CSAIL have developed a robot which could make the recycling process a lot easier for everyone. The robot, dubbed RoCycle, has the unique ability to be able to identify waste material simply by “touching” it. This means that it will be able to tell what kind of material an item is made of and sort it accordingly, thus saving human workers a lot of time and effort from having to do it manually.

This is done by using a strain sensor that gauges the object’s size, followed by the use of two pressure sensors that helps determine how squeezable an object is. Based on that, it can then tell if an object is paper, plastic, or even metal. It is a good idea but in its current form, it seems that it could stand to be improved upon.

This is because it only has an accuracy of about 63% while sorting items on a conveyor belt, and an accuracy of about 85% when objects are stationary, meaning that it probably won’t be that useful in real-world application, but it’s still a good start nonetheless.

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