rStream, a robotics company focused on waste management and recycling formed by two UMass Amherst students and incubated at Greentown Labs, Somerville, is rolling out a pilot program with UMass Dining Services. Running through the fall semester, the program will test the AI’s ability to identify in real time what is going through the waste stream. Co-founders Ian Goodine and Ethan Walko will present their technology along with a demonstration of the system, dubbed AuditPRO, to members of the press and the community on Oct. 17, at 5:30 p.m. in the Lincoln Campus Center.
Goodine and Walko began investigating solutions for waste in 2020 during their mechanical engineering senior design project with the goal of having artificially intelligent robots sort recycling from trash. During their master’s studies, they formally co-founded rStream, further developed the idea through the I-Corps @ UMass program of the Institute of Applied Life Sciences, which helps students and others on campus turn their technological discoveries into real-world products and services, and sought out grant funding from the National Science Foundation to support their continued R&D.
“The big problem in recycling is people just don’t put stuff in the right bin,” Goodine says. This often leads to “capture rates” — the amount of recyclables diverted from the waste stream — of only 30%. Compounding the issue is that roughly a third of the single stream recycling collected is contaminated which degrades the quality of those recyclable commodities.