ATLANTA—Robots fly aircraft into war and help doctors perform surgeries. Gary McMurray has spent eight years getting a robot to debone a chicken.
Engineers from Japan to Holland have been trying for decades to create a robot that can replace human workers performing the repetitive task of making precise cuts to remove the valuable breast meat from chickens.
Carving a chicken seems simple enough to people who have done it in the kitchen. But the eye-hand coordination, or reflexive sizing up that the human brain makes as it decides where and how deep to cut has been incredibly difficult to replicate in a robot, says Mr. McMurray, who leads a team of robot builders at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
A robot capable of doing the job could save millions of dollars in labor costs, poultry industry experts say. And the average poultry plant could collect much more meat.
“It is “a Holy Grail project,” says Mr. McMurray. “Every bird is different.”
Now, after pecking away since 2004, the chief of the Georgia Tech Research Institute‘s food processing technology division and his team plan a test in June of what he calls a “revolutionary” prototype chicken-deboning robot.
The Institute works with industry and the military to find dull, dirty tasks that could be performed by a robot, Mr. McMurray says. This machine, equipped with robotic arms and a surgical blade, is guided by a three-dimensional imaging system that can determine in a split second the size of each chicken and where its skin, meat and bone are, Mr. McMurray says. They have already shown the robot to industry groups, and now are running the test to make sure it can cut meat off a chicken as quickly and efficiently as a man with a knife can.
Strange Random Chicken Quote:
“I don’t know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens” – E. B. White (American writer 1899-1985)
- Would You Eat the Meat of a Robot-Deboned Chicken? (gizmodo.co.uk)
- Robot uses 3-D imaging and sensor-based cutting technology to debone poultry – Phys.Org (phys.org)
- Robot uses 3D imaging and force feedback to debone chickens (theverge.com)
- Cutting edge technology: Robot that automatically de-bones chickens could save poultry businesses millions per year (dailymail.co.uk)
- Robot arms slice up chickens real fast (ubergizmo.com)
- Georgia Tech develops poultry deboning robot / chicken nightmare machine (engadget.com)
- Holy Grail of Robots: One to Debone a Chicken (newser.com)
- Turn One Chicken into Two Roasts: A Lesson In Deboning (blogher.com)