Automating recycling seems like the smart thing to do when considering the incredible amount of waste we humans produce every year. But robots can’t easily tell materials apart just by looking at them with the help of cameras. That’s why sifting through piles of recycled material that can include paper, plastic, and metal is often a laborious task for machines.

But MIT’s RoCycle robot concept can tell paper from plastic and metal and dispose of the objects fed to it accordingly. The robot does all of this without cameras, but rather the help of sensors embedded in hands-like arms — akin to human touch, one might say.

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