In the final year of high school, many students are tasked with creating final projects that show off the skills they’ve learnt through their years of education. And often, they show that the student still has much to learn. But sometimes, projects come along that take your breath away — like this incredible recycling robot made by a Aussie student.
Last week, Sydney-based Twitter user Simon Monk shared a video of the robot made by his 17-year-old son, Riu Fukazawa.
My sons HSC design project: sort plastics for recycling using the existing barcode already on the item. Battery powered laser scanner & arduino. (pretty cool!) pic.twitter.com/cM8jDTFAun
— Simon Monk ☀️????⚡️???? (@SimonMonk) September 5, 2020
The video shows his son bringing objects to a custom-made bench with a barcode scanner. When his son scans an object’s barcode, the bench opens a flap to either the recycling bin or general waste bin under the bench. It’s pretty slick and simple (unlike some other recycling robots) — and the video went viral.
Monk tweeted that Fukazawa created the sorting device himself using a battery powered barcode scanner and a Arduino circuit board.
How did this Aussie high school student create the recycling robot?
Fukazawa told Gizmodo that he made the recycling robot as his major work for Design & Technology, a capstone project for his HSC subject. He said he’s passionate about the environment, but the idea to do something specifically about plastic waste came to him one day when he was shopping.
“I had the idea quite a while ago and one day when I was out at the shops, I began thinking about barcodes and the possibility that it could be applied to plastic types,” he said.
Although simple-looking, Fukazawa went through many iterations of the design before settling on its final form. The project now has a custom-designed wooden bench top that houses the bins. Fukazawa programmed the electronics which reads the barcode and then opens one of the bin’s lids, depending on whether it is recyclable or not.
He said he had to learn a lot to pull the project together.
“At the start of the year, I had very limited coding skills, but I’ve come a long away on that,” Fukazawa said.
Although it’s not as he originally imagined — “I was initially thinking of building something more industrial, like a conveyor belt” — he’s pretty happy about how it turned out.
He earned a few supporters along the way, too. Atlassian co-founder and environmentalist Mike Cannon-Brookes praised the project on Twitter.
Amazing work mate. So clever. So simple.
One would think trash sorting at a massive scale could perhaps be done similarly?
— Mike Cannon-Brookes ???????????????? (@mcannonbrookes) September 5, 2020
But despite the plaudits and viral success, Fukazawa has yet to win over his toughest critic: his mum.
“I never had something like this go viral before. So I guess it surprised me. But my mum wondered why. She said ‘how come, it’s not even that amazing?'” Fukazawa said.