Startup Spotlight: Recyclops aims to revolutionize recycling

The Recyclops Bot is an artificial intelligence-powered recycling bin — drop something in the opening, and the bin will determine what kind of recyclable or waste product it is.

Recyclops CEO, and University of Dayton senior, Mike Sundermeier, pitched the company last week at Dayton Tech Guide’s June 2019 Early Risers.

Mike knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur — in fact, he attended University of Dayton specifically for its entrepreneurship program, he said.

After winning a pitch competition for a different idea, Emily Cory, leader of the university’s Leonardo Enterprises, recruited Mike to lead the business side of the Recyclops Bot for the team of engineers that developed the AI-software. Leonardo Enterprises is a University of Dayton School of Engineering program that helps students launch tech-based startups.

The team of engineering students behind the Recyclops Bot includes Luke Schepers, Gunnar Lykins, Leo Lamantia and Evan Krimpenfort. They were inspired after working with the UD Hanley Sustainability Institute & learning that UD Arena has 30 percent extra waste from recyclables that are thrown away, Mike said.

Trash collection companies often incentivize facilities to recycle by hauling those recyclables away for free with the trash, so that 30 percent of mis-identified items represents a significant opportunity for savings, he continued.

The Recyclops Bot has the potential to capture those savings, he said.

Right now, the camera inside the AI-powered Recyclops Bot can identify 85 objects. The team’s goal is for the bot to recognize 500 to 1K objects before they take it to market, which they hope to do in mid-2020 or early 2021.

The teams target market for the Recyclops Bot is k-12 schools and local, state & national parks — areas where sustainability is at the forefront, Mike said.

“What’s really cool about this product, about going into schools, is the educational aspect,” he said. “By teaching kids at a younger age, and giving them that empowerment of recycling, we hope will carry on into a complete next generation.”

The Recyclops team is looking for connections to the target market, organizations that might be interested in piloting the recycling bot, and individuals who can help accelerate the engineering process or develop marketing/logo materials.

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