AI-driven waste robotics company, Recycleye, has completed a £13.6m ($17m) Series A financing round, led by deep-tech venture capital firm DCVC.

London-based Recycleye uses AI-powered waste-picking robots to lower the cost of sorting materials.

The new investment will be used to further improve the accuracy of Recycleye’s sorting.

DCVC led the funding round, with existing investors increasing their stakes. Promus Ventures, Playfair Capital, MMC Ventures, Creator Fund and Atypical were joined by new Madrid-based investors Seaya Andromeda.

The Series A follows £4m ($5m) previously raised in 2021 and £2m ($2.6m) secured to date in European and UK government innovation funding.

The idea for Recycleye began when CEO Victor Dewulf visited a recycling facility as part of his degree and was surprised at the level of manual labour involved, making sorting waste expensive and time-consuming.

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He suspected that artificial intelligence could improve the process and turned to his friend and current CTO Peter Hedley to partner on the project.

The pair began developing their system in Hedley’s parents’ garage and launched Recycleye in 2019.

Recycleye’s technology combines computer vision and robotics to pick with more consistent accuracy than a human. Using proprietary AI models, the robot ‘sees’ waste and is trained to pick an unlimited number of material classes such as plastics, aluminium, paper and cardboard.

Recycleye Robotics is the most accurate and efficient AI robotic picking solution globally available today.

Objects are scanned and identified at an unrivalled 60 frames per second. This is twice as fast as the industry standard and means that each item is seen on average 30 times as it passes along the conveyor belt, with double the chance of being accurately identified before picking.

Recycleye is able to operate 24/7, 365 days a year, currently picking up to 33,000 items per robot over a 10-hour shift.

The company is working with a growing number of waste management companies facing the two-fold challenge of labour shortages and increased costs while responding to growing demand for quality recyclates.

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Recycleye’s technology is installed in facilities in England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Australia, the US and France, with multiple robot orders confirmed in Italy and Belgium.

The Recycleye team has grown to 33 and includes graduates of Cambridge, Caltech, Imperial College London and the Universities of Bath, Warwick, Cardiff, Sheffield and Southampton.

CTO Peter Hedley said: “We believe that waste does not exist, only materials in the wrong place.  Our mission is to provide intelligent sorting technology that delivers dramatic financial and environmental returns to the global management of waste.

“This new investment will help us to further fine-tune our world-leading solutions, underpinned by the solid maintenance network our clients need to generate more output value.”

CEO Victor Dewulf (pictured) added: “With this investment, we can scale our operations to target a market which we estimate to have a SAM of $114bn globally today, but with the potential to increase by 14 times to $1.6Tr when the cost of sorting is reduced.”