Robots to debone chicken at break neck speeds

The prototype uses advanced 3D imaging technology and sensor based robotic cutting arm

Very soon, robots will debone chicken if a prototype model developed by Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) hits the markets.

Robots have historically been used for all manners of purposes; from specialty painting in automobile factories, firing rivets, surgery and other numerous mechanical tasks. Now researchers are finding ways to bring robots into the kitchen in a way never before imagined.

Known as the Intelligent Cutting and Deboning System, the project is led by Gary McMurray, chief of GTRI's Food Processing Technology Division.

Cutting up chicken or other kinds of poultry products is not one of those things robots are known for. However, a prototype system that uses advanced 3D imaging technology and sensor based robotic cutting arm might make this possible.

The robotic hand uses 3D vision to determine when and how to slice up the chicken. Like a human but 100 times more efficient, one robot arm holds the chicken while a computer 3D vision system determines its contours and decides where to land the knife.

Whereas the knife makes simple cutting movements, the other hand is freer and can make numerous movements. The robot performs precision cuts that minimise the risks of bone fragments considerably while maximising yield.

The robot may have useful application in Georgia’s $20 billion poultry industry. Poultry companies may maximise profits on every flock by using a more efficient deboning system.

To deal with the variations in chicken/bird sizes and shapes, the researchers developed an efficient sensing and actuation system that gives the robot the ability to adapt its cutting to individual birds. Forcing the bird to conform to the machine would have been ruinous, according to the researchers.

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