On 21 June 2022, The European Patent Office (EPO) awarded the new Young Inventors Prize to Belgian entrepreneur Victor Dewulf (25) and British computer scientist Peter Hedly (27) for their efficient waste sorting system based on artificial intelligence (AI).

Artificial Intelligence at Work

With a computer vision system trained to recognise waste items on a conveyor belt and a robotic arm to pick out valuable material, the invention increases the speed, accuracy and purity of waste-sorting

Dewulf and Hedley’s system consists of two parts, which can be used separately or together. The waste recognition system uses a cellphone-quality camera mounted above conveyor belts to take photos of the passing waste and send them to an algorithm, which ranks them for picking priority. Instructions on where to pick up and place the waste are then sent to a 6-axis robotic arm for sorting. The entire solution can make 55 successful picks from a conveyor belt every minute.

Ultimately, the invention increases the volume of recycled waste and makes recycling more profitable.

Young Inventors Prize 2022

The Young Inventors Prize is one of Europe’s most prestigious innovation prizes. The European Patent Office (EPO) created this new prize to inspire the next generation of innovators. The prize is attributed to inventors aged 30 and under and rewards initiatives that contribute to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and that positively impact our lives.

Watch the EPO European Inventor Award virtual ceremony on 21 June 2022 on YouTube

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Last update
24 April 2023