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December 15, 2014 AT 9:00 am

The rarely-seen robots that package what we eat

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The BBC has a behind the scenes story on the various robots used to package our food:

Last July, while touring a jelly bean factory, I came upon a startling sight. Over a conveyor belt, a large robot spider danced over packets of sweets, plucking each one up with human speed and precision and placing it in a carton. The packets were piled willy-nilly, but the machine and its colleagues – two others were also manning the line – seemed to know where each one was and worked together to collect them all in seconds. It was riveting, and not a little eerie.

It turns out these robots are based on a design by Swiss robotics professor Reymond Clavel of the Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne, called a delta robot. They are incredibly quick and can do jobs in food packaging that only humans used to be able to do, like sorting or stacking randomly arranged objects, without the repetitive stress injuries such tasks give people.

Read more.


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