The aim of this project is to come up with design concepts looking 5–7 years into the future and based on future trends and real human needs, behaviors.

How might we unlock Cleveron's full potential of humans and machines working together?
project general info
PROJECT : DESIGN for emerging themes PROJECT WITH Sofia Vega Anza

CHALLENGE : where do Cleveron's autonomous workers fit in in the near future world that's defined by circular economy, ageing population, changing societal values, remote work, economical and political instability, and many other themes? How can the company help us lead better lives with the help of humane technology?

client: cleveron

TOOLS : figma, PROTOTYPING, semi-structured USER INTERVIEWS, speculative design methods, BOOTLEGGING TECHNIQUE, futures wheel, steep, adobe suit, sticky notes, collages, future trends, research, system thinking, miro, notion
Starting point
End result
starting point
Currently, we are transitioning into a circular economy. This is a big trend in the world. To enable that, we need new business models like sharing \ leasing products and more services to repair and reuse the ones that already exist. For that though, we need new technologies and cleveron can help us with that. I'll explain the term circular economy with two examples from phone production, one from the linear economy, which has been the norm up until now, and one from a circular economy.

In the linear economy phones are produced like this. First, raw materials are harvested from the earth, then they are taken to the phone manufacturer who uses them to produce the products, then a user buys them and uses the phone until it breaks or they want a new one. and finally, when the users are done, the phone is thrown away and it ends up in the landfill with all other waste.
For the circular economy example, we were inspired by a future scenario proposed by DHL in their 2009 future study called delivering tomorrow. They propose that in 2015, we would operate in a circular economy, where phone production would look something like this. When the products are designed, they are wrapped in data so that their life cycle could be followed. Consumption would change as users would no longer buy the phones, but instead rent them for a monthly fee, for example. Distribution is also sustainable, as it is done by autonomous electric vehicles. Luckily, cleveron has already started working on that. When there's an update, or something breaks, users no longer need to replace the whole phone, but they can just switch out parts of it like the camera, for example. And finally, when the user wants to switch the manufacturer or the phone breaks completely, the user would return their phone to the manufacturer who recycles it and uses parts of the device to produce new phones.
Photo by Leio
Photo by Shifaaz
Photo by Jacob
Photo by Jacob
Photo by Mike
Photo by Jason
Photo by Sven
Photo by Ed
Photo by David
Photo by Hal
When we first started researching this topic, we saw that the most logical place for Cleveron to intervene would be the distribution part. But as we went deeper into our research, we actually discovered that there might be another area that could use help of cleveron - the growing population. With a growing population, there is also a need for more green raw material to use for production. And therefore we think that we could tackle recycling with Cleveron. We believe that it would strike a nice balance as currently the focus of Cleveron is on innovation and distributing products into the world. And this would be an area to counter that with collecting, sort of put one in take one out logic. So in order to do that, we were thinking what if we unite the linear and the circular economy? What if we saw the need for more raw material, we would take the landfilled waste into the circular economy, we can do that with urban mining, which is solution where waste is not sent into landfills but put back into circulation.
What is urban mining? I will explain this term through an example. To produce one tonne of electrical steel from scrap, only 0.8 tonnes of primary raw materials are needed. The rest can be the scraps from urban mining. additionally, only 1/3 of the energy input is needed. So you can see that we can save a lot of resources with that. Moreover, we also save money, which makes it beneficial from the business side as well. But for urban mining to work, we need sorted waste. The landfills, though, often look like this. This is an old landfill from Estonia. And to remedy this situation somehow, a lot of the landfills have been covered up and closed by the state. Now you see the problem here - to use urban mining we would need to open that landfill up again, therefore the effort in landscaping would go to waste. For this reason, we need a very discreet way to get an instant access to the material.
Let's look at what is actually in the landfill. This is an Estonian example, since there is a big oil shale industry in Estonia. 80% of the landfill waste are oil shale ashes. But since they are very separated from other waste, and there are already companies working on reusing that ash, we didn't go in that direction. Then we have equal parts of household waste, which consists of things that you and I would throw away, and construction waste, which is side products of building and demolishing, like metal, concrete, and discarded house house parts. This is the area we just decided to focus on, particularly metal, because we think that would be the easiest one to collect, and scrap metal is already valued. To get an idea of the volume, take a look at this graph. In Estonia, back in 2003 70% of the waste was landfills. This was a trend long before the 2000s. So there is a lot of material buried in the ground.
So this got us thinking, how might cleveron harvest valuable waste from the landfills and recirculated it?
When we started to look into the landfills, we discovered that it's dirty mess of material, and it is valuable. But after talking to an expert from Ragn-Sells, we understood that in order to make bringing stuff out of landfills profitable, we need technology that will be able to dig for specific targets, clean it and collect the items it's been bringing out. We wanted to get inspired by someone smarter than us, someone who is already an expert in these things. So we turned to nature (biomimicry), or to be more precise - worms.
As you can see, this is a composting bin with a quite similar landscape as the unstructured landfill. And as you can notice from the video, the worms navigated in the area by cleaning and collecting what they eat. So without further ado, we introduce you to the Cleveron material miner - the nature inspired mining robots for collecting valuable material.
The features of the Cleveron material miner : it has electromagnetic sensors to detect the metals inside as well also covered with as part of booth super thorough very precisely into the landfill. To navigate there It has flexible worm-like Body, estimates zeros have to be cleaned to reuse them. The cat-tongue wipers remove the dirt from the materials and expand the goal collection box enables to collect and store the waste. The robot's body has a 30 centimetre diameter, that makes a hole that can easily be posed after the mining job. So as you can see, we set out to feed the waste from in our economy into the server one. And with the Cleveron material miner, we have achieved that goal we think we can start to eat the way you have the massive amount of landfill material and recycle it to get the steady new green source of raw material.
As for the service level, we have thought of an example in an Estonian context. Let's start from the top here. So there is a manufacturer who wants material. They are contacted by Cleveron, who offers this targeted mining service and makes the mining contracts with the state as most of the landfills in Estonia are owned by the state. And then Cleveron does the mining job and provides the materials from the landfill to the manufacturer. This way, the manufacturer does not have to go through the hassle of reaching an agreement with the state and also cleveron can be in a better position as they can benefit from the mining service. therefore, cleveron can be in control of the price of the materials that they will be selling to the manufacturer. This though, is just one possible service option. And we can also discuss, for example, private ownership of these mining robots for the sort of gold digger type of people.
end result
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