Meet Liam: Apple’s newest employee
Two years ago Apple set out to with an aim to become a green company. The plan was to make sure all its offices, retail stores, and data centres are all using renewable energy. Two years later Apple has made considerable progress and reached 93 percent renewable energy globally with 23 countries being 100 percent reliant on renewable energy.
Now Apple is aiming to take their environmental initiative even further, shifting focus on recycling the products it creates. And to help them, Apple introduced its latest employee. Created and designed by a small group of hired engineers and programmed by another team from Apple on a R&D project over three years, Apple unveiled a robot named Liam.
One of the tech giant’s better kept secrets, Liam is a large-scale robot, with 29 robotic arms that all have a different purpose, much like any assembly-line robot. Except this one works in reverse. As in it takes your Apple product and returns it to its original individual pieces, all of which consist of different materials, thus creating a more efficient method of recycling. Liam was such a big secret that only a handful of Apple staffers even knew that it existed.
Liam can disassemble an iPhone in 11 seconds. If maths isn’t your forte, that’s around 350 iPhones an hour, and up to 1.2 million iPhones a year. Liam is designed to allow an entire process to continue if one of the arms break down for a quick fix, and a longer fix allows an operator to temporarily step in.
And because Apple are such a forward thinking company, Liam also gets the weekend off to rest.
This incredible new machine can detect, extract and separate individual materials found in iPhones like the cobalt and lithium from batteries that has proven to be very toxic to the environment, gold and copper in the camera, and silver and platinum for the main logic board. These recovered materials can then be reintroduced into the global supply. A couple of examples given were how the tungsten iPhone alert model could be used to make precision cutting tools, and the silver in the motherboard could be used in solar panel. Although Apple’s ultimate goal is to be able to recycle the parts in their own products, creating a complete cycle.
The invention of Liam, in my opinion, is probably Apple’s most innovative move in a long time. This is the first attempt in the recycling industry to move away from shredding, and is one Apple hopes other tech companies will follow. This invention could revolutionize the way tech companies view their products and shift to new plans to build, consume, and recycle their own products to create brand new products. This will also serve to make Apple customers feel like they are owners of a product that is environmentally responsible.