Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, May 21, 2024

AI-Based Recycler AMP Robotics Gains $55M in New Funding from Investors 

AMP Robotics Corp., an AI startup developing technology that sorts recyclable materials, has raised an additional $55 million in its latest funding round.

The Denver-based AI startup launched in 2015 has so far raised more than $71 million in two funding rounds. The latest was led by XN Capital, which touts its investment strategy as emphasizing algorithm risk models. New AMP investors include Valor Equity Partners and GV, the venture capital arm of Google parent Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL).

Existing investors include Sequoia Capital, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Congruent Ventures and Closed Loop Partners. Sequoia Capital led the earlier round in November 2019.

AMP Robotics is targeting its AI platform at the estimated $200 billion in recyclable materials that go unrecovered annually. Demand for recycled material has soared during the pandemic. The proprietary technology combines computer vision, deep learning and robotics to pick and sort recyclable materials based on color, dimensions, opacity and other characteristics.

Along with reducing the amount of waste that would otherwise end up in landfills, investors note that AMP’s technology yields higher-quality recycled materials that must meet stricter international quality standards for contamination-free imports of recycled materials.

The company claims its automated approach delivers much higher recovery rates than manual recycling methods. It then stores data on each detected item, data that can be used to finetune the robotic system for individual waste streams.

The technology can be used to recover plastics, cardboard, paper, cans, cartons and other containers and packaging types reclaimed for raw material processing. For example, it can identify different types of plastics, including polyethylene terephthalate, high- and low-density polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene. It can also distinguish among different form factors ranging from lids, tubs, cups and others.

The technology’s recognition capabilities also include detecting materials by brand name, which is “increasingly critical as demand for sufficient quantities of high-quality recycled material grows to meet consumer packaged goods companies’ commitment to use of post-consumer recycled content,” the company said.

AMP works with consumer brands such as Keurig, which uses the technology to recycle its coffee pods.

In November 2020, AMP signed a long-term agreement with Waste Connections Inc. (NYSE: WCN) to deploy 24 AI-guided robotics platforms to recover a range of materials. The deal reflects growing needs to automate recycling efforts during the pandemic to protect frontline workers while addressing labor shortages and a spike in residential waste brought about by the spread of COVID-19.

AMP claims its AI-guided robots achieved 1 billion picks in 2020.

The company launched its application for construction and demolition debris late last year.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).