(GoodNewsFinland) Jufo Peltomaa is a happy man. He has had the privilege of taking part in the establishment of a unique company specialising in waste recycling. The robot intelligence created by ZenRobotics leaves behind all of its competition. World domination has begun.
ZenRobotics’ success story starts with Aalto University’s neurorobotics research group, in which Tuomas J. Lukka and Harri Valpola, both PhDs, worked in 2007. When the men realised that their AI and robotics technologies were ripe for commercialisation, Peltomaa was asked to join them in establishing a company.
— Through ZenRobotics we wanted to radically improve the intelligence of the world’s robots and consequentially also their capabilities. Later, following an intensive survey lasting more than a year, which took place in the customer interface, the idea became more focussed and we honed in on recycling in particular, recounts Peltomaa.
The system’s unique brain
Just as in any startup company, Peltomaa had to try his hand at nearly everything in the beginning.
— Cleaning the conference room and lining up our shoes were nicely balanced out by administrative work and pursuing risk financing rounds, Peltomaa says with a smile.
Today, he is able to focus on his favourite topics, i.e. strategy and marketing. The tasks are clearer and the going is tougher. The ZenRobotics Recycler system has developed into a unique product that is nearly impossible to compete with.
— What is unique about the system is the ZenRobotics Brain robot control technology. It accumulates vast amounts of data through its sensors, analyses it, makes decisions and controls the robots. The system is based on artificial intelligence and is far more advanced than traditional robot control systems, says Peltomaa.
— Traditional, simple and rigid robot control systems aren’t suitable for the ever-changing and chaotic waste streams. What is needed is some truly advanced machine learning, and that is something we have.
Robots replacing people
The system is in high demand; the EU on its own produces 900 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste annually. Half of this waste ends up at landfill sites because the proper means for handling it have been lacking in the past. If you were to describe the annual volumes of waste ending up at landfill sites in the EU in terms of the weight of a passenger car, the line of cars would circle the Earth some 45 times.
The ZenRobotics Recycler reclaims specific objects from the waste stream, which can be useful in numerous ways. The customer can sell the reclaimed materials and save on landfill dumping costs. Savings can also be achieved in logistics, which makes up the bulk of waste handling. Another aspect is work safety.
— Replacing the people who manually sort waste with robots is essential because their work exposes them to asbestos, mould and toxins, as well as sharp and heavy objects, says Peltomaa.
A robotics revolution
In September ZenRobotics received a EUR 13 million investment from equity investor firm Invus to support the growth of the company.
̶ World domination is progressing well and in the upcoming months we will start up our first deliveries. We have a resale network that covers around fifty countries and it has quite an armada of customers waiting for us, Peltomaa explains.
According to him, we are heading towards a robotics revolution, but before that happens the company is keeping both feet firmly on the ground.
̶ In five years’ time, ZenRobotics will be a force to deal with in the recycling business. In the shorter term, we intend to maximise our chances of success by increasing the number of our personnel by up to twofold next year.