There’s a really interesting story in the Wall Street Journal about the work of Gary McMurray. The robot builder once built military robots to help locate terrorist bombs but has spent the last eight years building…robot chicken deboners.
These robots are meant to precisely separate chicken meat from the bone, with as much finesse as possible. His work is being financed by the state of Georgia (the largest producer of poultry in the country).
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.
Currently, large poultry processors already use man-operated machines (but not robots), which replaced many of the human poultry workers who once did this work by hand.
But the challenge for McMurray, as he builds and trains his army of knife-wielding robots, is that every chicken is shaped differently (at least, for now) so the robot must make decisions about angles and depth when butchering. If the robot doesn’t cut close enough to the breast bone, it’s actually wasting meat and losing money. If it cuts too close, there’s a spray of bone shard in the meat and it can’t be sold.
Read the full story here, and enjoy all the poultry puns.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 31, 2012