Victor Dewulf and Peter Headley, Young Innovator Award 2022 »PACA Economic and Political Newsletter Final

The European Patent Office (EPO) has selected engineers Victor Duluf and Peter Headley for their new Young Innovation Award for their artificial intelligence (AI) based robotic waste detection and sorting technology.

Launched with just a treadmill, a camera and a dumpster pile of rubbish, the two entrepreneurs have turned their smart waste sorting system into a thriving business that has raised millions of dollars. The two parts make their invention, which can use recycling facilities together or separately: a computer detection system that uses AI to accurately identify different types of waste and a robotic arm running on six axes to autonomously select from a reusable valuable material. Conveyor belts consist of various low cost wastes. The purpose is to increase the purity of the recycled waste and thus increase the value, thereby strengthening the financial incentive for recycling.

“Through the identification and sorting of their twin wastes, Victor Duluth and Peter Headley are making a significant contribution to reducing global wastes and moving towards a circular economy,” said EPO President Antonio Campinos. The Belgian-British duo of inventors is among the three finalists for a new award created by EPO to inspire future generations of inventors. The award recognizes young innovators 30 years of age or younger, who solve global problems and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The winners of the Young Inventor Awards 2022 will be announced during the Virtual European Innovation Awards Ceremony to be held on 21st June.

A vision for smart waste management

According to the World Bank, the world generates two billion tons of household waste every year, which can have a negative impact on the disposal or incineration of the environment. Unfortunately, sorting waste for recycling is very demanding, one of the main hurdles being the separation of plastic and other valuable waste from mixed low-cost waste, which is mainly handmade and can be prohibitively expensive. Dear. By automating the process using AI, Victor Duluth and Peter Headley aim to increase the proportion of recycled waste. Peter Headley explains, “Our optical recognition system can run on the fastest conveyor belt of a waste plant, which our competitors cannot.” “The AI ​​priority of waste sorting is helping us improve our efficiency by about 300% – and a 300% increase in the bottom line for our benefits benefits them and improves their margins. The ” Recycle Vision ‘computer vision system uses a cellphone-grade camera, mounted on a waste conveyor belt, to take 60 pictures of the trash every second and send it to an algorithm that ranks them according to their pick-up priorities. Either recycled robotics in the selected arm, where it is told where to pick up and where to dump the waste.This process can perform 55 samples per minute on a treadmill.

The invention began in 2018, when Victor Duluth visited a reusable facility as part of his master’s course in environmental engineering. He was shocked to discover how laborious the waste sorting process was. Inspired by this observation and a master’s course in computer science by his friend Peter Headley, Victor Duluth wrote his thesis on automating waste sorting using computer vision. After graduation, Victor Duluth and Peter Headley followed different paths, but Victor Duluth’s thesis was already beginning to draw attention. In 2019, Victor Dulf commissioned Peter Headley to create a prototype waste identification system using computer vision. Using a trash-covered treadmill to mimic a recycling treadmill after testing their initial computer vision system in Peter Headley’s parents’ garage, Victor Duluth and Peter Headley founded their company Recycle in 2019. The following year, Victor Duluth and Peter Headley raised € 935,000 (€ 935,000). £ 800,000) began investing in seed and building their robotic pick arm in partnership with robotics company FANUC. Towards the end of 2020, they implemented their Recycleye Vision system in France but also got good results locally for British waste management companies Biffa and Re-Gen. They have deployed 17 vision systems and five robotic weapons, with more to come The global smart waste management market value was € 1.5 billion ($ 1.8 billion) in 2020 and is expected to reach € 5.4 billion ($ 6.5 billion) by 2026.

About the inventors

Victor Duluf, 25, was born in Belgium and moved to the UK in 2017 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Bath, followed by a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering and business management at Imperial College London. PhD on computer vision applied to waste. He joined Goldman Sachs in 2018-2019. In 2019, he co-founded Recycleye with Peter Headley, of which he is currently the CEO. Victor Duluth has already won awards, such as the BP Centurion Award or the Lettia Chiti Centenary Memorial Award, and was selected in the Forbes 30 under 20 years of 2021 under the Social Impact category. Peter Headley, 26, of the United Kingdom, graduated in 2017 from the University of Bath with a degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in computer science at Imperial College London. During his studies in civil engineering, he worked as a design engineer at Apex Circuit Design Ltd, leading and training a team to transform motor racing circuit simulation software. After his masters, Peter Headley worked at the Art Gallery applying computer vision. He co-founded Recycleye in 2019 with Victor Duluth, where he is now CTO. Find videos and visuals by Victor Duluth and Peter Headley

About the “Young Innovator Award”

The European Patent Office created the Young Innovator Award in 2021 to inspire the next generation of inventors. Aiming at global innovators 30 years of age or younger, it recognizes initiatives that use technology to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The winner will be rewarded with 20,000 euros, with the second and third place finalists receiving 10,000 and 5,000 euros, respectively. An independent jury of finalists for the former European Innovator Award selects the finalist and the winner. The EPO will present the award for the first time during the Virtual European Innovation Awards ceremony on June 21. Unlike traditional European Inventor Awards categories, the finalists for the Young Innovator Award do not need to hold a European patent to be eligible for the award. Learn more about eligibility and selection criteria for the Young Innovator Award.

About the European Patent Office

With about 6,400 employees, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public institutions in Europe. It is headquartered in Munich and has offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna. The EPO was created to strengthen patent cooperation in Europe. Through its centralized patenting process, inventors can access high-quality patent protection in less than 44 countries, covering a market of approximately 700 million people. EPO is a global authority for patent information and patent search.

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