The effort to automate trash collection is underway.
Volvo wants to make garbage pick-up quieter and less straining—and remove humans from the process almost entirely.
The automaker on Wednesday said that it is collaboratingwith Chalmers University of Technology and Mälardalen University in Sweden, Penn State University in the United States, and the waste recycling company Renova to build a robot that interacts with a garbage truck and its driver to collect trash.
The objective of the project called Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling or ROAR is to introduce a robot that, after receiving instructions from a truck’s operating system, can collect garbage bins in a neighborhood, bring them to a refuse truck, and empty them. The garbage truck driver supervises this process while avoiding heavy lifting.
While the truck driver is still involved in the process, Volvo’s description of the project implies that the robots would displace human garbage collectors, who, in large cities in the United States, are tasked with hauling trash from curbsides and alleys. About 66,000 people in the United States were employed as refuse and recyclable material collectors in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they earned a median hourly wage of $16.27.