Scientific articles and deliverables from the project

Scientific articles from the project

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.

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

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.

Intelligent Cutting System for an Innovative Meat Factory Cell

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

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

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

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

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.

Go to full version of the publication

Smart Knife for Robotic Meat Cutting

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

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

Robotisation and Intelligent Systems in Abattoirs

I. Esper, P. J. From, A. Mason

Meat has been an important protein source for human nutrition for thousands of years and will continue to be. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (OECD-FAO)outlook report 2018–2027, the meat consumption increased around 20% in the last ten years, and it is expected to grow another 15% for the next ten years. The harsh working environment in abattoirs and meat factories, such as cold and wet operating rooms and long difficult handling of heavy loads, contributing to the shortage of a skilled labour forces. This, coupled with a considerable increase in the
meat consumption, paved the way for novel approaches in the meat industry to address this challenge, with robotisation and automation of the meat factories being a necessary change.

A review of unilateral grippers for meat industry automation

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

With the expectation that meat consumption will grow by 12% over the next decade, coupled with the reported labour issues and viruses attacking human and animal health, there is a growing requirement for red meat slaughterhouse automation. Changes to current abattoir setups and processes are necessary to realise for sustainable, low-cost and scalable automation. However, to achieve such autonomous nirvana, simple, costefficient and robust tooling to support these systems are sought. This includes grippers used to hold, manipulate and transport workpieces, such as primal cuts of red meat, for example, with the simplest type being unilateral gripping systems.

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

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

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

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.

Robotic grippers for large and soft object manipulation

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

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

Robotisation and intelligent systems in abattoirs

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

Published in Trends in Food Science & Technology


  • 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.


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.