Machinex partnered with AMP Robotics of Colorado to create the SamurAI. AMP provides the robot’s artificial intelligence, while Machinex provides the robotic components and ensures its complete integration into sorting systems.
The first SamurAI was installed in May 2018 at Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS) in Forest View, Illinois. Located on the container line, after an optical sorter ejecting polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and a ferrous magnet, the robot picks colored high-density polyethylene (HDPE), natural HDPE and aseptic containers. SamurAI offers the flexibility to remove other products, such as PET and foil, as well. The technology reduces LRS’ reliance on manual labor in its single-stream recycling facility, which decreases operating costs while improving the plant's productivity, Machinex says.
Two SamurAI units recently were installed in Quebec, and six more robots will be installed in other Canadian material recovery facilities (MRFs).
“We are satisfied with this market response since the use of artificial intelligence is still very recent in the industry,” says Jonathan Ménard, vice president of sales and strategic positioning at Machinex. “Our customers that have decided to install a SamurAI robot have all done their homework analysis, with the objective of guaranteeing a satisfactory return on investment while ensuring a familiarization with the sorting technologies of the future.”
Machinex says that in recent years it has developed sorting technologies to achieve high recovery and purity rates for recycled materials and that SamurAI is a complementary technology.
Ghislain Thivierge, a specialist in robot cells integration at Machinex, says the SamurAI stands out from the competition because of the power of its gripping tool. “We pushed its development to obtain a very powerful suction tool that offers, therefore, an excellent rate of success in gripping. The force of the suction lifts the containers while minimizing the movement of the surrounding material on the belt. The combination of this phenomenon and a success rate of 60 to 70 manipulations per minute gives the equipment very satisfactory results.”
He adds, “It must be understood that no matter how artificial intelligence performs, the robot must be able to capture the desired products despite their shapes, weight and so on. Our current experience shows us that the SamurAI performs very well in grabbing the most difficult containers, like large HDPE that have irregular shapes. There is no doubt that this is giving us a strong competitive edge. "
Ménard says, “Now that our SamurAI robot performs well on sorting containers, the next step is to tackle fiber sorting as it is an important issue for our customers.”
He also stresses the role that data management and analysis will play in optimizing the performance of sorting plants. “The robot thus becomes one of the tools for collecting, processing and providing feedback for some of this data.”