Researchers in Arkansas, Georgia, and Nebraska will soon be using a $5 million grant to increase the use of artificial intelligence and robotics in chicken processing. The goal is to reduce waste in deboning and detect pathogens.
According to information from University of Arkansas Extension, poultry processing lines began 70 to 80 years ago but have seen only incremental changes in technology since that time. Introductions of technology have not proven to be as adept as humans to this point. Robotic hands don’t do well at holding slippery meats. Automated deboners leave 16 to 17 percent of meat, which is huge on an industrial scale compared to the 13% left by humans doing the job.
Research will include ways to dial in the technology. Specificallly, funds going to the Georgia Institution of Technology, better known as Georgia Tech, will focus on automating the processing lines that convert chickens to meat. Georgia is the nation’s top broiler producer.
Along with helping to relieve labor shortages, automation could allow plants to locate in rural areas with a smaller work force but nearer poultry houses and with lower property costs.