World’s First Artificially Intelligent Carton Sorting Robot?
Courtney Winchester posted on March 27, 2017 |
The AMP Cortex, nicknamed Clarke, sifts through the container line. Photo Courtesy of Business Wire.
The AMP Cortex, nicknamed Clarke, sifts through the container line.

The world’s first recyclable-sorting robot has been developed by the Carton Council of North America, in collaboration with AMP Robotics and Alpine Waste & Recycling.

The Carton Council has been conducting a pilot program using an AMP Cortex, an artificial intelligence (AI) system, which allows the robot to learn how to adaptively identify, grab and separate various beverage and food cartons.

Nicknamed “Clarke”, the system works on the container line using spider-like arms with specialized grippers to sift through the recycling stream and grab cartons.

The AI allows Clarke to learn from experience, just as humans do. The robot remembers logos, shapes and textures, allowing for optimal separation efficiency. Effective separation is vital to avoid contamination from other materials during the recycling process.

Clarke has attained a carton pickup rate of 60 cartons per minute, while humans typically pick up 40 cartons per minute.


Clarke uses specially made grippers to pick up the many different cartons.
Clarke uses specially made grippers to pick up the many different cartons.


Because the system is constantly learning, “it’s only getting better and better,” Dr. Matanya Horowitz, founder of AMP Robotics, claims.

“Clarke can be a cost-effective way for facilities to introduce new packaging that does not always have a large volume. Additionally, unique grippers can be developed to identify and pick contaminants, which is one of the biggest issues our industry currently faces,” said Horowitz.

“Clarke greatly expands opportunities for the carton industry as we work to increase the efficiency of carton recycling and, ultimately, divert more cartons from landfills," said Jason Pelz, VP of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America and VP for Tetra Pak cluster Americas.

“Everything Clarke has learned about identifying cartons can be transferred to robots at other MRFs. We are excited to bring innovation to carton recycling and believe this technology has widespread implications for the recycling industry, as it can be adapted to other materials."

For more information, visit the Carton Council, AMP Robotics, or Alpine Waste & Recycling websites.

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