AMP Robotics, a Colorado-based startup using artificial intelligence to sort recyclables, on Monday announced the close of a $55 million round of Series B funding.
The funding will help the company grow internationally and improve its "vision system," which uses a combination of artificial intelligence and robotics to sort through everything from used-up batteries to crumpled cardboard.
"We solve a really meaningful problem in the recycling industry," Matanya Horowitz, CEO of AMP Robotics, told Cheddar. "A lot of this sorting is done by people today. It's a fairly hazardous and tedious job. A lot of recycling facilities are run understaffed. So our robots basically let them fully staff their facility and automate the sorting of material."
AMP claims its robots can execute between 80-100 picks per minute. A human picker, Horowitz explained, tops out at 60-80, but the average is closer to 40 as people get tired.
Yet the robots themselves aren't the crucial component, according to Horowitz. More important is the artificial intelligence system that guides them. The vision system can discern different objects based on their color, clarity, opacity, or even their chemical properties.
"So what we've done is built a vision system that lets us identify all this material you put in the trash or the recycling, even though it's smashed or folded or dirty," he said.
These vision systems allow recycling companies to maximize the number of items they actually sort, a potential boon for the difficult economics of the industry.
"What's key about what we do is we really lower the cost of sorting out material, and what that means is it can be profitable to sort out some materials that might not otherwise be sorted," he said.
Horowitz noted that this funding round came fairly easily and that he's confident venture capital will play an important role in tackling issues such as recycling and climate change.
"I'm quite bullish on venture capital's participation in different climate-related technologies, as well as the recycling space more specifically."
Updated January 11, 2021 at 8:25 a.m. ET to correct amount AMP Robotics raised in Series B funding. AMP Robotics raised $55 million, not $55 billion.