A group of researchers at Georgia Tech Research Institute is close to perfecting a robot that can debone a chicken. The robot uses 3D imaging to accurately measure each individual carcass and calculate where the cuts need to be made. It then determines the exact position and angle of the carcass and rotates it appropriately, before a cutting arm moves into position to make the cut. While cutting, the system uses force feedback to detect bone and guide the cutting knife around its surface. This precision deboning allows for ligaments and meat attached directly to the bone to be harvested with a very high yield.
Gary McMurray, chief of the Georgia Tech Research Institute's Food Processing Technology Division, says that deboning a chicken is a holy grail project. "Each bird is unique in its size and shape, so we have developed the sensing and actuation needed to allow an automated deboning system to adapt to the individual bird, as opposed to forcing the bird to conform to the machine." The team revealed a prototype version of the robot last year, but has since improved the speed and, in a recent demonstration, was able to debone a bird in seconds.