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Knife-Wielding Robot With X-Ray Vision

A knife-wielding robot has been developed and installed in a New Zealand meat-processing plant. It uses X-ray vision to make sure that it cuts the meat at exactly the right spot, with the right angle of cut.

Since 2003, the country's largest meat processor has operated a joint venture with Dunedin automation specialist Scott Technology to develop a robotic lamb carcass cutting system.

About $14 million later, the joint venture, Robotic Technologies, has created a "lamb primal breakdown system" which seems worthy of MAF's [Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry] approval on several counts.

The system, which does the work of two people in the boning room, uses x-rays to determine where cuts should be made as carcasses are broken down into three sections - the hindquarter (legs), middle (ribs) and forequarter (shoulder) portions.

"We scan the carcass and from that x-ray image calculate the angle of the ribs," says Scott Technology head Chris Hopkins. "That information gets transferred to the cutting machine and the cutting machine adjusts for every carcass."

The only sfnal predictions of robotic systems with blades didn't turn out well for the visiting humans. Take the maze of Lemnos described in The Man in the Maze, a 1969 novel by Robert Silverberg. The city was surrounded by traps that were run by the city itself. At first visitors tried to find a way through with probes:

At the begining of the fourth minute the probe skirted bright rillwork like interlocking teeth, and sidestepped an umbrella-shaped piledriver that descended with crushing force. Eighty seconds later it stepped around a tiltblock that opened into a yawning abyss, deftly eluded a quintet of tetrahedral blades that sheared upward out of the pavement...

I was also thinking that this knife-wielding robot might be a good start for a fencing mirror robot like the one described by Frank Herbert in his 1965 novel Dune.

From Robot invasion is good news for farmers.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/8/2009)

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