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A Robust, Flexible and Scalable Cognitive Robotics Platform

Project description

Robotics and automation for efficient meat processing

The meat sector is one of the most important in EU agriculture, consisting of farmers, farmer cooperatives and abattoirs. One of the biggest challenges is maintaining quality. Therefore, automation is a key issue in meeting food security recommended by the EU. However, advanced robotics and automation systems are expensive, non-flexible and lack scalability and robustness, preventing their purchase and wide-scale application. A new pioneering automation concept advanced by scientists in Norway and Denmark, the Meat Factory Cell (MFC), isn’t capable of autonomy. The EU-funded RoBUTCHER intends to develop a cognitive MFC with high autonomy properties using core robotic technologies based on AI and cognition. The project will provide small and medium-scale meat processors with the tools to overcome technical obstacles that prevent the adoption of robotic automation systems.


Uptake of advanced robotics and automation in the Agri-Food sector, specifically in meat processing, has been stifled due to the perceived high cost as well as the lack of flexibility, robustness and scalability to suit different volumes, smaller in particular. This conflicts with recommendations that governments across Europe should encourage greater food system efficiency and security. Pioneers in Norway (NMBU/Animalia) and Denmark (DTI) have been working to address this issue and have created a new automation concept for the meat sector: the Meat Factory Cell (MFC). The MFC today is simple, relying upon the intelligence of human experts to complete complex tasks. However, meat processing plants are amongst the lowest quality working environments in Europe, making autonomy a must.
RoBUTCHER aims to develop a cognitive MFC, capable of autonomy. To achieve this, RoBUTCHER has the following underpinning objectives: (1) Assessment of social, legislative and best practise meat industry requirements; (2) Development of novel technology modules for autonomous cutting trajectory planning, and integration with cooperative human–robot interfaces; (3) Creation of enabling intelligent tools to evaluate the system, chiefly for cutting and handling; and (4) Industrial scale pilot of the cognitive MFC.
Core robotic technologies are integral to RoBUTCHER, where the main emphasis is AI and Cognition, but natural overlap exists to include Cooperative Human-Robot Interfaces and Cognitive Mechatronics. Today there are no suitable “off-the-shelf” solutions. The ambition for RoBUTCHER is to develop a system to TRL6, using existing MFC infrastructure within the Consortium as a catalyst for research and innovation. Successful delivery of the project will provide the robustness, flexibility and scalability that small and medium meat processors require to lower the technical barriers they face in adopting robotic automation, which would improve job quality and food security in Europe.

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Net EU contribution
€ 1 374 506,00
1433 As

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Norge Oslo og Viken Viken
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 623 102,50

Participants (11)