Dive Brief: Rubicon Global has received patent approval for a “Method, system, and vehicle for autonomous waste removal,” as first reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The patent describes the current system of house-to-house collection as inefficient, in part because residents may forget to set out their carts or often leave them at the curb for too long after service.

Rubicon proposes potential scenarios in which an automated vehicle drives down a street and sends a signal to a “Plurality of transporters,” which would then autonomously bring receptacles out for collection.

Patent activity over the past two years shows Rubicon continues to work on updating its proprietary routing and service confirmation technology, along with new plans for sensors in commercial containers.

As described in the autonomous collection patent, some of these applications could also work in commercial settings.

At various 2017 industry events, Rubicon executives repeatedly staked their claim on the “Smart cities” trend and said the potential for data collection and other services was “Nearly limitless.”

One of the most tangible example of autonomous collection is currently being tested by Volvo and service provider Renova in Sweden.