Deboning Chicken for Hainanese Chicken Rice?

Hainanese chicken rice is a national delight here on the little red dot. There could be thousands of stalls selling chicken rice here and each stall selling up to 100 or more chickens a day. Each chicken is cut up into pieces before it is place on a plate of rice to be serve. This challenge of deboning the chicken (after it has been cooked) has been posed to engineers on the item without much result. It’s possible technically but it’s not easy to beat the chef with his mega chopper.

Gary McMurray, chief of the Georgia Tech, is getting robots to debone uncooked chicken. It’s not an easy task. “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. Impressive!!

Source – The Verge

Rethink Robotics

Today’s manufacturing robots are big and stiff, unsafe for people to be around, engineered to be precise and repeatable, not adaptable. Normal workers can’t touch them… What if ordinary people could touch robots? What if ordinary people got to interact with them and use them?

– Rod Brooks, Remaking Manufacturing with Robots

Rethink Robotics

Placing the human in proximity to a robot might slow down a robot while it performs its task. I am curious to find out how this can be achieved in reality. Are these robots inherently safe, where even safety is considered from a hardware perspective.

Robots are typical position controlled but there is a move to force control or impedence control where forces with the human, the environment and the object are consider. This means the robot is becoming more like us as it’s possible for a human to work blindfolded feeling our way and figuring out the objects and the environment around us just by touch. There are a few companies that are working and selling these types of robots.

Meka Robotics is one company that has developed a human safe force controlled robot that can be used for such applications. Barrett Technology’s WAM arm is another such arm is highly dexterous, naturally backdrivable. It’s being used in the DARPA’s ARM Challenge. The other arm is the KUKA’s LWR arm has a 1:1 Mass-Payload ratio with a 7kg payload. This ensures that the robot is safe as compared to a typical industrial robot. The LWR is on sale but there is a great interest in the arm from the industry. These technologies don’t come cheap but it’s the way robotics should go. It would be good to see more adopter of the technologies in the real world outside of the laboratories.

Festo’s New Robotic Hand – Exohand

Festo has been developing beautiful robots of late and it’s still amazing me the way that the develop robots with an understanding of biological systems. It not only gives robots the ability to mimic biological systems but gives us an understanding of how our anatomy works.

The Exohand won second place during the Hermes Award at this year’s Hannover Messe industrial fair. It’s a fair that showcases the latest and most innovative products.

The ExoHand has eight double-acting pneumatic actuators that act as the muscles of the hand, with eight linear potentiometers acting as displacement sensors, and 16 pressure sensors provide feedback about the positions, angles, and forces of fingers. This provides a means for haptic force feedback for the human operator while remotely manipulating the arm.

Festo has developed other systems worth looking at, e.g. the PowerGripper that models after a bird’s beak and a robotic arm that is inspired by the elephant trunk. They also have a flying robot that look at the flight of bird with the Robotino XT, their mobile platform used for education and research. I am sure there will be many more interesting projects in the pipeline.

Source – forbes.com

Musical Robot at Google I/O

Shimi is a musical robot creation by Tovbot. The robot allows you to dock your android phone and has high quality speakers to produce high fidelity sound. It’s your personal DJ, with the ability to face you wherever you are located to direct the sound towards you. It has the ability to give you alerts from your favorite social media platform if musics is not playing.

This robot is planned for launch at CES 2013. Hang in there if you want Shimi but for the time being, a sonos or Google Nexus Q might suffice!!

 

Source – IEEE Spectrum