Recycling Robots

In the future, a recycling robot with wheels may drive through the hallways of apartment buildings to pick up materials, for recycling.

Imagine living in an apartment building in the future, and you have to get rid of some empty bottles. This will be no problem since a robot with wheels can drive though the hallway of your apartment building, stop at your front door, and pick up your empty bottles and other materials, for recycling.

Recycling, as it's done today, is far from being complete. We have state laws in many states that put a deposit on empty plastic and glass bottles. In most states the deposit is five cents per bottle, in Michigan, where I live, the deposit is ten cents per bottle. These state-mandated deposits encourage people to recycle bottles (after all, who would want to throw away an empty bottle if it's worth ten cents?), but there are many types of bottles that are not covered by the deposit laws. Glass jars, like pickle jars and peanut butter jars are not covered. Non-carbonated beverage bottles, like iced tea and fruit juice are not covered (for some reason, the bottle-deposit laws in many states only apply to bottles that contain carbonated beverages). If a full program of recycle is ever going to be established, we've got to be able to recycle all containers, including tin cans, and empty jars from peanut butter, pickles, and so on.

At some point, you've got to provide an alternative to the local grocery store as a recycling center. It would be better to have robots come to your door, and pick up any materials that can be recycled at your front door. These recycling robots would be brought to our apartment building in a truck. The truck may contain approximately twenty robots. The truck would park in the parking lot at your apartment building, and a ramp would unfold at the rear of the truck. Since each robot is mounted on wheels, the robots simply drive off the ramp and drive up on to the sidewalk. The next step is getting the robots into our apartment building. Your landlord or apartment manager will let them in. It is assumed that your apartment building has barrier-free construction, let me take a moment to explain barrier-free construction. Barrier-free construction is the term used to describe buildings that have no steps or other obstacles at the front door. Steps would become an obstacle to any handicapped residents who use wheelchairs, since the wheelchairs can't get up the steps. Many apartment buildings have ramps, instead of steps. Although the ramps were designed for wheelchairs, these ramps can also be used by recycling robots.

After the recycling robot gets into your hallway, it parks there, and it will remain parked there for 24 hours. The truck that delivered the robots to your apartment building leaves, and it will come back the next day to pick up the robots. While the robot is in your hallway, you have the opportunity to put recycled materials in it. This system can be adapted for use in community-mandated recycling programs, or in voluntary programs. The use of robots to handle recycled materials will reduce labor costs.

Anthony Ratkov, September 19,2012.

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