Due to rapid urbanization, more and more daily waste is emerging in urban areas. According to the World Bank's What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050 report, global waste could increase by 70 percent by 2050 if no effective action is taken, which means the global annual waste would reach 3.4 billion tons in the next 30 years from the number of 2.1 billion tons in 2016.
Nearly 12 percent of solid waste is plastic, Without proper management, plastics contaminate waterways and ecosystems for hundreds of years, or even longer. Another acute problem is electronic waste (e-waste). While more and more people purchase internet-connected digital devices, e-waste, including batteries, phones, laptops and sensors, has increased year by year. 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste was generated in 2016, and it is predicted that the number will grow to 52.2 million metric tons by 2021.
Improper waste disposal can not only degrade living environments but also threaten public health. As shown by McKinsey's calculation in 2016, the pollution and diseases cost south Asian economics $375 resulting from burning, dumping and discharging a ton of rubbish into waterways. In comparison, it would only cost $50-100 to dispose of that same ton if done by a well-designed waste management system.
While the amount of waste is growing larger and larger both for developed countries and developing countries as economies grow, the situations faced by these countries are quite different. On one hand, developed countries have more money and technology to build more efficient systems to deal with the waste. Nearly one-third of the trash can be recycled and composted in high-income countries, while only 4 percent of the waste is recycled in low-income countries. On the other hand, high-income countries are transporting toxic and hazardous waste into low-income countries through waste trade. Therefore, although the developed countries are generating more than one-third of the world's waste in total, the developing countries are suffering more.
To minimize the negative impact that waste puts on waterways, soil and ecosystems, improving recycling rates is one key initiative. In some developing countries like Indonesia, rag-pickers still play an important role in identifying recyclables. Most developed countries are using machines to help with the waste sorting. However, machines cannot distinguish some types of waste, such as different kinds of plastics and papers.
In order to tackle this pressing social problem and help achieve SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), Dorabot seeks to build recycling robots which recognize, pick and sort all kinds of recyclables. At present, there is no such application that can pick out all kinds of reusable waste efficiently.
At present, Dorabot develops robotic solutions for express delivery scenarios using deep learning for robotic vision and self-developed grippers. With rich experience in logistics automation, Dorabot has developed solutions capable of recognizing, picking and sorting all kinds of packages and envelopes. This background has positioned Dorabot as a leader in robotic vision and manipulation technology. Leveraging such technology to conduct waste sorting and recyclable picking is feasible and of great interest to the company.
Once put into use, Dorabot recycling robots could reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and incinerators, protecting public health by reducing water and land pollution. And more materials could be reused in industrial production, simultaneously benefiting economic growth and promoting sustainable development.
Dorabot currently has 100 employees from over 10 different countries who are devoted to revolutionizing industries with IA-powered robotics. Core team members include Amazon Robotics Challenge champions and famous research scientists like Gary Bradski, founder of the open-source computer vision library OpenCV.
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