Robo-dog Trial

Successful robo-dog trial could help solve Australia’s litter crisis

Robotic dogs and artificial intelligence could help Australia fast-track to litter-free status. In a trial by Veolia, the benchmark company for Ecological Transformation, dog-botics have been trained to collect littered waste, like plastic, paper and glass, proving they could help humans to clean-up the state of the environment.

Walking the streets of Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, two dog-botics, aptly named scoop doggy dog and clean-up, have successfully collected littered bottles and cans from the promenade, to be recycled instead of potentially ending up in the ocean. 

The robotic dog technology uses mechanical manipulation and camera detection intelligence to produce a series of custom-trained actions. As part of the Veolia trial, the dogs were taught to recognise waste in the street, and act by picking it up and disposing of it safely out of the natural environment. 

With the ability to carry up to 14 kilograms, and a battery life of over an hour, the dogs swiftly moved along the length of the beach before having to empty their buckets.

Richard Kirkman, Veolia’s Chief Operating Officer, said the health of our waterways and our ability to solve Australia’s litter crisis could rely on the adoption of robotic technology.  

“In all parts of our lives we use digital technology to improve our livability and this can include litter. The machines accurately detected and collected littered waste, making it a potential game-changer for cleaning-up the environment.

“The robo-dogs can recognise just about any object we train them to do - like a sophisticated version of fetch, only it could help solve our litter crisis and protect our oceans at the same time,” he said.

Millions of tonnes of waste is estimated to enter Australia’s oceans every year. Mr Kirkman said the technology could help reduce this number, however humans still need to play their part.

“It’s not always possible to avoid waste in society, so when it can’t be prevented, people need to be vigilant about making sure it goes in the right bin as the first step. 

“Technology is a great way to help us collect litter, but it should never be our only line of defense,” he said.

Sophisticated technology already underpins Australia’s recycling and waste industry, with Veolia leading the way in new infrastructure development.

“We already use optical sorting to better recycle materials, we have biogas and energy from waste projects to help recover more, and we’re committed to trialing all options on the market, so we stay ahead of advancements and drive ecological transformation in Australia and New Zealand.

“The robotic dog litter collection trial unleashed some promising results. We also tested the dog’s ability to detect underground leaks in our water operations, which were successful too. We’re excited to see how the technology can be evolved and where it can be best applied in our business, " Mr Kirkman said.




Veolia Group aims to become the benchmark company for ecological transformation. Present on 5 continents with nearly 220,000 employees, the group designs and deploys useful, practical solutions for the management of water, waste and energy that are contributing to a radical turnaround of the current situation. Through its 3 complementary activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, to preserve available resources and to renew them. In 2021, the Veolia Group provided 79 million inhabitants with drinking water and 61 million with sanitation, produced nearly 48 million megawatt hours of energy and recovered 48 million tonnes of waste. Veolia Environnement (Paris Euronext: VIE) achieved consolidated revenue of 28.508 billion euros in 2021.

Further Reading

Explore our waste and recycling services

Read about ANZPAC's roadmap for plastic management

Read about the latest key policy and regulatory updates relevant to the environment


Skye McParland, Head of Communications | +61 427 319 881 | [email protected]