Scientific articles and deliverables from the project

Scientific articles from the project

Quality assessment of fresh meat cuts as a performance indicator of knives specifically adapted for robot-assisted operations

Helle Røer, Olga Korostynska, Frøydis Bjerke, Dmytro Romanov, Luis Eduardo Cordova-Lopez, Alex Mason, Per Håkon Bjørnstad, Torunn Thauland Håseth and Ole Alvseike.

Published in Management Science Letters 13 (2023)

Manual labour in slaughterhouses is hazardous work. Workers suffer from injuries and occupational illnesses resulting from repetitive movements with sharp knives. There is a need for a robotic tool which can perform versatile tasks with a high level of precision. This knife must be able to imitate the same primary cuttings of a professional butcher and produce meat products which are acceptable to the end-market. This paper reports the results of a world-wide assessment of the fresh pork meat cuts as a performance indicator of knives specifically adapted for automated operation.

Pigs: A stepwise RGB-D novel pig carcass cutting dataset

Ian de Medeiros Esper, Luiz Eduardo Cordova-Lopez, Dmytro Romanov, Ole Alvseike, Pål Johan From, Alex Mason

Published in Data in Brief, Vol. 41, April 2022

This paper presents a pig carcass cutting dataset, captured from a bespoke frame structure with 6 Intel® RealSense™ Depth Camera D415 cameras attached, and later recorded from a single camera attached to a robotic arm cycling through the positions previously defined by the frame structure. The data is composed of bags files recorded from the Intel’s SDK, which includes RGB-D data and camera intrinsic parameters for each sensor. In addition, ten JSON files with the transformation matrix for each camera in relation to the left/front camera in the structure are provided, five JSON files for the data recorded with the bespoke frame and five JSON files for the data captured with the robotic arm.

Drivers, opportunities, and challenges of the European risk-based meat safety assurance system

Bojan Blagojevic, Truls Nesbakken, Ole Alvseike, Ivar Vågsholm,  Dragan Antic,  Sophia Johler,  Kurt Houf, Diana Meemken, Ivan Nastasijevic, Madalena Vieira Pinto, Boris Antunovic, Milen Georgiev, Lis Alban

Published in Food Control, Vol. 124, June 2021

The traditional meat safety system has significantly contributed to public health protection throughout the last century. However, it has been recognised that this system suffers many flaws – the main being its limited ability to control the currently most important meat-borne hazards. The European Food Safety Authority evaluated meat inspection in the public health context, prioritised meat-borne hazards and proposed a generic framework for a new, risk-based meat safety assurance system. The proposed system aims to combine a range of preventive and control measures, applied at farms and abattoirs and integrated longitudinally, where official meat inspection is incorporated with producers’ food safety management systems into a coherent whole.

Effects of Meat Factory Cell on pork qualities, sensory characteristics and carcass hygiene: an exploratory study

M. Sødring, T. Thauland Håseth, E. Rasten Brunsdon, P. H. Bjørnstad, R.
Sandnes, O. J. Røtterud, A. Mason, I. de Medeiros Esper, E. Hallenstvedt, P.
Agerup, K. Kåsin, B. Egelandsdal & O. Alvseike

Published in Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A — Animal Science (2022)

The Meat Factory Cell (MFC) concept restructures the slaughter line into cell stations and merges elements of the slaughter- and primal cutting processes. With the MFC approach, most of the primals are removed prior to evisceration. This study describes the effect of the MFC concept on carcass hygiene, carcass yield, meat quality traits, and sensory characteristics of selected MFC products from trials with the very first pig carcasses processed with the MFC approach. Results show that hygiene of MFC carcasses rivals conventionally slaughtered carcasses. For quality variables and sensory characteristics of selected MFC products, the study shows that the MFC approach will result in products that equal, and in some cases surpass, conventional products, provided that proper processing, packaging and chilling is applied.

Meat safety legislation and its opportunities and hurdles for innovative approaches: A review

Gunvor Elise Nagel-Alne, Emil Murphy, Brittany McCauslin, Sigrun J.Hauge, Dorte Lene Schrøder-Petersen, Janne Holthe, Ole Alvseike.

Published in Food Control 141 (2022)

Innovations are necessary to meet future challenges regarding sustainability, animal welfare, slaughter hygiene, meat safety and quality, not at least for optimal balance between these dimensions. The red meat safety legislation texts from Europe, New Zealand, USA, and global guidelines, were analysed for normative formulations (“how it is or should be done”) that may create non-intentional hurdles to innovation and new technology.

Towards human-robot collaboration in meat processing: Challenges and possibilities

Dmytro Romanov, Olga Korostynska, Odd Ivar Lekang, Alex Mason

Published in Journal of Food Engineering vol. 331 (2022)

This article critically reviews automation challenges for robotic applications in the meat industry, among those are heterogeneity of meat pieces and inconsistency of cutting trajectories that must be overcome to achieve the final quality product. It specifically focuses on human-robot collaboration (HRC) that could be applied in the meat industry to address these challenges. The paper elaborates on possible adaptation of HRC in meat industry, based on its achievements in other industries.

Smart knife: technological advances towards smart cutting tools in meat industry automation

A. Mason, D. Romanov, L. E. Cordova-Lopez, O . Korostynska

Published in Sensor Review 42/1 (2022)

Modern meat processing requires automation and robotisation to remain sustainable and adapt to future challenges, including those brought by global infection events. Automation of all or many processes is seen as the way forward, with robots performing various tasks instead of people. Meat cutting is one of these tasks. Smart novel solutions, including smart knives, are required, with the smart knife being able to analyse and predict the meat it cuts. This paper aims to review technologies with the potential to be used as a so-called “smart knife” The criteria for a smart knife are also defined.

Advanced Sensors for Real-Time Monitoring Applications

O. Korostynska, A. Mason

Printed Edition of the Special Issue Published in Sensors (2021)

Water quality is one of the most critical indicators of environmental pollution and it affects
all of us. Water contamination can be accidental or intentional and the consequences are drastic unless the appropriate measures are adopted on the spot. This review provides a critical assessment of the applicability of various technologies for real-time water quality monitoring, focusing on those that have been reportedly tested in real-life scenarios.

A review of unilateral grippers for meat industry automation

S. Ross, O. Korostynska, L.E. Cordova-Lopez, A. Mason 

Published in Trends in Food Science & Technology Volume 119, January 2022


  • Overviews current red meat industry challenges that drive the need for automation.
  • Why red meat slaughterhouse automation has not seen widespread automation adoption.
  • Benchmark theoretical holding forces calculated for gripper suitability assessment.
  • Review of unilateral robot grippers for use within a new pig slaughter process.
  • To conclude simple vacuum systems, can potentially manipulate 40 Kg meat pieces.

Robotisation and intelligent systems in abattoirs

Ian de Medeiros Esper, Pål J. From, Alex Mason

Published in Trends in Food Science & Technology 108 (2021)


  • Reviewed intelligent robotic systems that are being developed or are already available for the carcass cutting and deboning.
  • Provides an overview of the current relevant automation in abattoirs.
  • Presents Overview, Process and Critical review of research and commercial projects.
  • Commercial products are Frontmatec AiRA Robots, Mayekawa Hamdas-RX, and SCOTT Automated Boning Room.
  • Research are SRDViand Z-cut robotic system, ham deboning system and ECHORD-DEXDEB, and SINTEF GRIBBOT.
  • Evaluate of production efficiency, worker’s health, hygiene standards, scalability to suit all production volumes.
  • Investigate the adaptability of these systems to different production concepts, e.g., cell based factory.

Life cycle sustainability assessment of a novel slaughter concept

Clara Valente, Hanne Møller, Fredrik Moltu Johnsen, Simon Saxegård, Elin Rasten Brunsdon, Ole Arne Alvseike

Published in Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 272, 1 November 2022

This article presents a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment of an innovative slaughter concept, i.e., a semi-automated version of the Meat Factory Cell (MFC). The system is characterised by division of labour with close human-robot interaction, as compared to a Conventional Slaughter and Cutting Process (CSCP). A case study is built which considers the conditions at a Norwegian slaughter facility. Several assumptions are made for the MFC as the concept is still in the development phase. A sensitivity analysis has been employed to highlight the key factors leading to changes in the environmental, economic and social aspects of the Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment framework.

Conference proceedings

Intelligent Cutting System for an Innovative Meat Factory Cell

I. Esper, L. E. Cordova-Lopez, P. J. From, A. Mason

Proceedings of the Challenges in Automated Food Processing workshop at the European Robotics Forum (ERF2021)

This paper presents work relating to an intelligent cutting system for pig carcasses. It generates the cutting trajectories based on the meat factory cell cuts. A 3D point cloud is generated from RGB-D cameras placed arbitrarily in pairs on either side of the pig. The challenge for complete object reconstruction with little or no overlap and a high degree of symmetry is solved using a novel pipeline, then the 3D object is aligned to an atlas of the pig that encompasses the pig’s skin, bones, organs, and the desired cuts.

Human-Robot Collaboration in the Meat Industry

D. Romanov, O. Korostynska, A. Mason

Proceedings of the Challenges in Automated Food Processing workshop at the European Robotics Forum (ERF2021)

An approach to some production steps in the secondary red meat processing can be revised to improve human working conditions and food safety. Some of the meat processing steps are difficult to automate due to the tasks’ nature, but, taking into account the emergence of new technologies, especially in development of collaborative robots and recent advancements in the artificial intelligence (AI), it seems to be possible to solve these challenges in the near future.

Computer Vision for Robot Butcher

Luibivyi, M. Manko, I. Sahumbaiev, O. Smolkin, I. Krashenyi, A. Popov, I. Esper, A. Mason

Proceedings of the Challenges in Automated Food Processing workshop at the European Robotics Forum (ERF2021)

To support the autonomous Meat Factory Cell in which two robots will perform the gripping and cutting of the pig carcass, this work presents the application of the deep learning to locate gripping points on the carcass limbs and prediction of 3D cutting trajectories using U-Net-based approach with ResNet backbones.

Open Issues in Agri-food Robot Standardization—the Red Meat Sector

K. Takacs, A. Mason, L. E. Cordova-Lopez, T. Haidegger

Published in 2021 IEEE 15th International Symposium on Applied Computational Intelligence and Informatics (SACI)

Ensuring the safety of equipment, operator and the environment during robotic operation is paramount. Robotic systems are appearing in more and more professional service applications, while mechanic and control system components are evolving fast themselves, the legislation and standards regarding these topics are lagging behind. In connection with the RoBUTCHER project – which is a pioneer research effort employing industrial robots for completely automated slaughtering – it was revealed that there are no particular standards regulating directly robotics applied to the agri-food application domain. More specifically, the meat industry and the red meat sector within has only seen hygienic standards regarding machinery, not considering human-robot collaboration or safe autonomous robot operation in the abattoirs. The purpose of this paper is to provide a general overview of the relevant standards (and similar guiding documents) that could be used as pathfinders during the development of inherently safe robotic systems. Exploring the standard and legislation landscape should offer some instrumental help regarding the foreseen certification process of meat processing robots and robot cells in the near future.

Robotic grippers for large and soft object manipulation

Kristóf Takács; Alex Mason; Lars Bager Christensen; Tamás Haidegge

Published in 2020 IEEE 20th International Symposium on Computational Intelligence and Informatics (CINTI)

Grasping has always been considered a key domain of cyber-physical systems, through which action physical interaction can be achieved. This paper presents a systematic review of the state-of-the-art robotic soft object gripping solutions aimed for the food-industry, focusing on red meat handling. A categorized analysis about the currently used grippers is provided, that could be used or adapted to robotic meat-processing. The paper enlists various solutions and gripping principles for low-payload applications too, although the emphasis is on the classic shape-locking and force-locking grippers that are potentially capable of grasping and manipulating heavier specimens. The purpose of the scientific literature survey is mainly to identify exceptional and/or remarkable gripper-designs, or completely new gripping concepts, while the patent research presents complete, commercially available solutions

Smart Knife for Robotic Meat Cutting

A. Mason, D. Romanov, L. E. Cordova-Lopez, O. Korostynska

Published in 2021 IEEE Sensors

Automation is a key enabling technology for efficiency improvement in the meat industry. This paper presents the development of a novel smart knife based on radio-and microwave-frequency sensing, which is suitable for automatic robotised cutting tasks. Partial-least-square regression and neural network prediction models are shown to determine contact of the knife with a work object and depth of cut. Using a water model, the knife can predict contact with 1.81% error, and depth with 2.45 mm (± 0.18 mm) mean error. With pork loin, error in contact detection was 2.92%, and mean depth error was 7.22 mm (± 1.39 mm).

Go to full version of the publication


Deliverable: Project Web Portal


This document presents the work done and currents status of the RoBUTCHER web portal (

Deliverable: Review of Available Cutting Tools: Recommendations regarding direction to develop such tools


Saws, knives and bespoke tools are evaluated for use in robotic slaughtering and primal cutting in an autonomous slaughter cell. As the project is in the initial phase further testing is necessary to make a final decision on the appropriate tools.

Deliverable: Data Management Plan


The purpose of the Data Management Plan (DMP) is to provide an analysis of the main elements of the data management policy that will be used in the RoBUTCHER project and by the project Consortium with regard to the project research data.

Deliverable: Gripping State-of-the-Art Review


Applying pulling force is essential in various stages of the pig processing,e.g., when dissecting the limbs or removing the inner organs. Various gripping solutions exist, which may allow for the grasping and gripping of soft tissue organs ranging from skin to bowels. An overview of existing commercial, patented and prototyped version is provided to be able to compare the layout and capabilities of different gripping solutions.

Deliverable: Robotics safety and legislative review

Safety of equipment, operator and the environment during robotic operation is paramount. Robotics is appearing in more and more industrial applications, while robots and robot systems are evolving fast themselves, yet the legislations and standards regarding these topics lagging behind. Since RoBUTCHER is a pioneer project in employing industrial robots for completely automated slaughtering, there is also no particular standard regulating directly this kind of application. The purpose of this document – as the 1st deliverable of T1.2 – is to provide a general overview of the relevant standards (or other official documents) that could be used as guidelines for development, towards a foreseen certification process in the future.

Deliverable: Prototype external gripper


A prototype gripper has been designed, built, and tested on warm and cold carcass limb
gripping with successful results. The stainless‐steel gripper is pneumatic driven with a payload/weight ratio of more than 4 and a self‐weight of 5.2kg. The gripper is designed for cleanability and robustness to handle the limbs without leaving damages to the skin surface. The design principle is a three‐point gripper principle, to cope with anatomical features (Ulna / Radius and Tibia / Fibula) at the preferred gripping position. The shape of the three gripping features is found by experiments on cold products assuming the performance being valid for warm carcasses as well. The validation is made by demonstration of a successful collaboration with a cutting robot in the meat factory cell.

Deliverable: Prototype Internal Gripper


The main task of OBUDAUNI in the project is the development of a smart
gripping tool that can carry out the manipulation/removal of the internal organs.
In the 18 months of the project, the first and second prototype of the gripper
was developed and tested for the pre‐defined gripping‐tasks including the inner
organ removal and limb support.

Deliverable: Cutting tool evaluation


The report describes testing and comparing of four knives, the data collection survey and response analysis. All four knives are acceptable when it comes to cutting (surface) quality. The respondents judged all samples acceptable and could not separate robot cut surfaces from
manual cut surfaces of the meat samples.

Deliverable: Student Workshop 1

This deliverable summarises the student workshop organised by OBUDAUNI. It contains brief descriptions of the lectures and invited talks, presents the overall goal and structure of the workshop and contains the attendance sheets too. One of the tasks in T8.1 (Dissemination and communication) was the organisation of a student workshop for international students about the scientific topics occurring in the RoBUTCHER project. The title of the student workshop was RoboSchool – AI and Robotics in the agri-food sector.

Deliverable: Student Workshop 2

This deliverable describes student-level dissemination activities of the RoBUTCHER project, namely the Meat Factory Cell system located at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway. Specifically, several student workshop events were held at the University during November 2022, to allow students from several cohorts and backgrounds to experience first-hand the system developed during the project. This is in line with the activities planned in T8.1, Dissemination, exploitation and communication. Four events were arranged, and at least 41 students in Norway and Ukraine, ranging from high school to PhD level, attended.

Deliverable: Report Cell Human Robot Interface

This report describes the Meat Factory Cell (MFC) human – robot interfaces. This includes description and discussion of design of both functional, safety, and hygienic aspects.

Deliverable: Robotics safety and legislative review update

Safety of equipment, operator and the environment during robotic operation is paramount. Robotics is appearing in more and more industrial applications, while robots and robot systems are evolving fast themselves, yet the legislations and standards regarding these topics are lagging. Since RoBUTCHER is a pioneer project in employing industrial robots for completely automated slaughtering, there is also no particular standard regulating directly this kind of application. The purpose of this document – as the second deliverable of T1.2 Safety legislation review – is to provide update of the relevant standards (or other documents) that could be used as guidelines for development, towards a foreseen certification process in the

Deliverable: Adaptive learning and remote intervention

This document presents a detailed description of the release state of Ocellus (BYTEMOTION’s bespoke software package) as a solution for D3.2, i.e., adaptive learning and remote intervention. For the purposes of this deliverable, Ocellus can manage trajectory data provided from the AI system developed by CIKLUM‐UKR with an intuitive, easy to use human to robot interface. VIVE tracker hardware is used as input, while Ocellus now supports the use of externally created tools represented as CAD models in its virtual MFC environment.

Watch video showing override of AI introduced trajectory using manual intervention through VR

Deliverable: Demonstration of Completed System Integration

The purpose of system integration has been to develop a platform which incorporates methods of cutting trajectory prediction, human-robot interfaces, cutting tools and gripping solutions, with the goal of having a complete Meat Factory Cell (MFC) system able to demonstrate cutting and manipulation tasks on entire pig carcasses.

Watch a demonstration of Completed System Integration