Plans to launch a Lego sorting service? ;-)
Seven, so it takes multiple passes before it is done.
> Or was this more just a proof of concept thing?
Tough question :) No, it's for real it really has to sort through the 2000 kg, but if it needs to be beefed up or changed to get to the end then I'll do it. The next step 'up' would be a machine designed from scratch incorporating all the lessons learned with essentially unchanged software. There are still some limitations that could be addressed but then you'd lose the training set and you'd have to start all over from scratch. That might be worth it to get the last 1% error or so, so if this ever becomes 'real' then I'd have to do that. I highly doubt it will get to that though. time will tell.
> Plans to launch a Lego sorting service? ;-)
Not at present, though you're not the first person to think of that, parents with kids are suggesting I should make it mobile to visit people at their homes for $x / shot :) Still, that will only happen if I really have nothing better to do, which means likely never.
Don't sell yourself short. You built the thing, after all. Could be some fun road trips with, I'm sure, gracious hosts to entertain you during Lego sort. That could be a whole retirement life right there ! ;-)
The VCs should start lining up in ...five...four...three...
OP is familiar with the secondary marketplaces and knows if he could classify and sort well enough to make sets, then could potentially make money buying bulk and reselling sets on these marketplaces.
It could be a real business. He's already proven he has the chops to design it. If he doesn't, I don't doubt someone else will try.
Obviously Lego itself could do this but probably make more money from melting and recycling their own parts under their brand as new, like Apple does with its recyclers. Do we know if Lego is recyclable as new Lego by melting?
There was a short period that Lego allowed people to design their own sets and order them through Lego but it was so popular they had to shut it down.
People even buy new sets to sort them out just to get new bricks to combine into their own creations without having to buy them in bulk and not being able to use half of what they buy.
Could you make money just buying bulk, sorting out rare parts, and reselling those?
The price of buying a new (or used) box vs. the price of "Bricklink"ing the parts is usually pretty much in favor of the former, which makes sense since the latter involves more S&H fees.
In additions, new moulds or new colors for existing moulds come up all the time (yet new moulds are all designed in the same system, so that they increase the versatility of Lego rather than Playmobil-izing them). Therefore, advanced fans who design their own creations and buy bricks in bulk do get lots of new Lego boxes. For example the VW Beetle model, besides being really cool in itself, had a lot of azure bricks, including many shapes that had never been realised in that color. Likewise for some Architecture boxes.
 "New bricks are too specialized" is the Lego version of "HN is turning into Reddit"
There are plenty of people doing that but by hand. I figure that's about minimum wage, doing it like this should be quite a bit more lucrative.
Once Lego's patent expired it tried a fairly shady legal theory that the interconnect shapes were trademarked/trademarkable. They pursued this all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court where they lost unanimously.