Recycling robot startup raises $55m

Recycling robot startup raises $55m

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

AMP Robotics in Denver, Colorado, has raised $55 million to expand its recycling robot technology based on machine learning.

The company, which has a deployment in a factory in Spain, uses its tagged AI-based Neuron technology to identify a wide range of materials in a recycling stream, including different types of plastics, which is praticularly hard to do. 

The Series B financing was led by XN with participation from new investors Valor Equity Partners and GV as well as existing investors Sequoia Capital, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Congruent Ventures, and Closed Loop Partners. This followed a $16m Series A financing led by Sequoia Capital in November 2019.  

“We are putting this next round of investment to work immediately to create novel technology for the waste industry and meaningfully contribute to reducing society’s impact on the environment,” said Matanya Horowitz, founder and CEO of AMP Robotics.

The Cortex computer vision and deep learning technology is used by high-speed robotics systems to precisely identify different types of plastics, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS), as well as carbon, metal and paper. It can further sort by colour, clarity, and opacity, along with different form factors such as lids, tubs, clamshells, cups, and more and differentiate recyclables found in the waste stream. The technology can recognize and recover material as small as a bottlecap and as unique as a coffee pod from complex material streams and stores data about each item it perceives.

Over $200bn of recyclable materials goes unrecovered each year around the world. The economics and efficiency of identifying and sorting paper, plastics, metals, and other recyclables from the waste stream creates a major challenge for material recovery.

“AMP’s technology radically improves the economics and efficiency of recycling and creates transformational long-term value for customers, the economy, and the environment,” said Gaurav Kapadia, founder of XN.

The company will use the latest funding to scale its business and develop AI product applications that integrate into materials recovery facilities to increase recycling rates for its customers, says Horowitz.

Next: Recycling challenges 

In recent years, the waste industry has also faced stricter international quality standards for contamination-free imports of recycled materials, leaving the industry in search of cost-effective alternatives to meet these requirements. Covid-19 then forced many businesses to suspend recycling operations due to concerns for worker safety. Simultaneously, the pandemic increased demand for high-quality recycled feedstock to overcome supply chain interruptions and shifts in raw material availability.

“AMP is a transformational company in the global waste industry, similar to companies we have partnered with in other sectors,” said Sam Teller, partner at Valor Equity Partners. “We believe deeply in AMP’s potential to update and scale our waste infrastructure to meet ramping demand for recycled content and to create a more sustainable, circular economy.”

In December  AMP signed a long-term agreement with Waste Connections in the US to deploy 24 AI-guided robotics systems, the company’s largest contract to date. It is also working with a Japanese indistrial automation company on a heavy duty system for recycling construction material.

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