Quite often we find commercial off-the-shelf technologies well suited for military applications and vice-versa with military transfer technologies. Thus, careful observers need to be cognizant of dual-use technologies and all their potential applications. As the Founder of an Online Think Tank such things are constantly on my mind. Recently, I was reviewing some research funded by IARPA – Intelligence Advanced Research Project Agency and thought to myself, this is some pretty trick tech and it has applications far and wide.
You see, there was an interesting article that caught my eye in the Journal; IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MICROWAVE THEORY AND TECHNIQUES, titled; “Spectral Signatures for Identifying Explosives with Wideband Millimeter-Wave Illumination,” James C. Weatherall, Jeffrey Barber, and Barry T. Smith. The abstract amongst other information stated the following:
“Millimeter-wave imaging systems used in airports, government buildings, and other facilities for personnel screening use advanced imaging technology (AIT) to detect explosives and weapons concealed under clothing. Additional information in the imaging data can be applied to identify the composition of the detected objects. The method described here demonstrates that material data in the form of the dielectric constant can be derived from the variation of reflectivity in millimeter waves over a range of frequencies from 18 to 40 GHz. By fitting the reflectivity to an optical model, the thickness and dielectric constant, including attenuation, can be computed.”
Well, if this is possible, we can build robotic recycling handlers to go through the refuse, trash and garbage that humans discharge and mine it for plastics, metals, glass, paper, wood, and organic material for mulching – without a single human hand ever touching anything or even much supervision to monitor the robotic imagery system. So, let’s discuss this shall we?
Imagine trash being dumped onto wide conveyor belts with a reflective surface to enhance the imaging of these millimeter waves, then as the conveyor belt moved many robotic arms capturing the various pieces of debris based on type and sorting onto other “U-shaped” conveyors moving those pieces to the proper categorized bin corresponding to the material type, then imagine those large bins on rails, moving forward as filled into the rail cars, then each train heading to the specialized recycling facility handling that specific material – iron, copper, aluminum, cardboard and paper, glass, rubber, and/or plastics.
Of course, as advanced as such a process sounds, it’s hardly difficult to imagine or create. Will this technology solve our recycling efficiency challenges once and for all? Please consider all this and think on it.