Unexpected Robots

One of best things about traveling, especially to other countries, is stumbling across something that may be commonplace to the locals but which is new and interesting to you. I was recently in Florence, Italy and happened upon an intriguing approach to a common civil engineering problem that uses a big ole’ robotic arm on a truck.

2015-08-06 13.26.46Throughout the city of Florence, these trash and recycling containers are a common sight. Some are for landfill rubbish, and some are for paper, plastic, or glass. I wasn’t able to figure out the exact rules. There is¬†often more than one container for some material types, possibly¬†to accommodate the volume.

They fade into the background pretty quickly. They look a little small, but really don’t come across as any different than the common, overflowing trash cans you find anywhere in the U.S. 2015-08-04 22.54.22There are even bags of trash and individual discarded items that are left beside these trash bins, presumably because the containers were full or the items didn’t fit.

One evening there was a long line of stopped traffic, all queued up behind a truck that wasn’t moving. What caught our eyes was the surprise that these trash cans were just the visible top part, and the very cool robot arm that was lifting them out of the ground.

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