This robot rubbish bin comes to you instead

    We’ve all been in that awkward position where we have rubbish but can’t find a bloody rubbish bin. That may be a problem of the past if this robot rubbish bin is successful.

    To address the challenge of reducing the amount of rubbish that ends up on the ground, the bin could could come to you instead. All you’d need to do is raise your arm and the cameras would pickup your gesture and travel to you, allowing you to dispose of the waste product.

    SNCF is France’s national state-owned railway company and manages the rail traffic in France. This means they have large areas they need to maintain for health and safety of passengers.

    Ahead of the Viva Technology conference in Paris, SNCF put out the word for startups to help them build a robot that would help ensure waste is disposed correctly, rather than left on the ground. The largest problem being bins are often not conveniently located and are in fixed positions.

    SNCF partnered with a young French start-up Immersive Robotics and worked for around 5 months together to develop a mobile bin robot called BARYL.

    While BARYL is moving around, future versions will also scan the ground underneath it and report any spills or rubbish to cleaning staff. I think its likely we’ll see the design evolve to support more of a Roomba style brush or mop system that pushes the waste product into the bin.

    “If there’s something on the floor it will take a picture and send it to maintenance. If there’s luggage that’s left behind, it’ll take a photo and send it to security.”

    Thanks to on-board sensors, it detects when someone throws in a piece of trash and sensors to know its full. When the bin is full the robot returns to a maintenance area and would send an alert that it needs to be emptied. You don’t have to dream too far to imagine that process becomes automated and it either empties itself into a larger bin, or a secondary robot removes and replaces the bag of rubbish. Once refreshed, it returns to its duties, so expect a fleet of these around a given location, with the specific ration still to be determined.

    After a positive reaction from SNCF management, the initial pilot was expanded and its now in more 20-25 train stations in France. There’s around 20 more planned before the end of the year and if proves successful, that scale will be increased.

    The battery life for the robot in the current version is around 6-8 hours, but it is possible to load more batteries to get up to 12 hours. V2 would have an automatic recharging function like Roomba.

    Its also worth noting that right now maintenance staff routinely check each bin twice a day, regardless of the need as its unmeasured and a dumb bin if you like. With a modern smart, connected bin, maintenance staff would only attend to bins that need it and this would also stop overflowing problems.

    Its a neat idea and something definitely unique. The question with this is the commercial viability and the cost of the technology R&D will certainly take some time to pay back in saved wages. Lets be real for a second. Bins typically smell bad, so having a smelly bin roll up beside you is probably not a great outcome. To solve that, I’d like to see a lid that opens when it detects someone’s trying to drop in rubbish, then immediately close.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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