The GRAIL Robot System
Purpose of the system
The GRAIL Robot System has been developed to assemble sandwiches, pizzas and other food products from their constituent parts such as tomato slices, cheese, lettuce and slices of bread.
The ingredients and bases can be positioned freely on the incoming comveyors and are identified and located by the system's vision system.
The GRAIL Robot Arm and gripper
The GRAIL Robot System is based around a low cost, purpose designed robot arm which fully meets all the application requirements such as hygene, speed and reliability. The robot arm differs from typical industrial robots which are designed to have very high accuracy and repeatability. For the food assemby task, high accuracy is not needed, allowing cost savings to be made.
The gripper has been specially designed to be compatible with the types of ingredients that need to be manipulated. It is based on the Bernoulli principle which means that it generates the vacuum used to pick up the ingredients by blowing air sideways at high speed. For food handling, this is more hygenic since the system is less likely to become contaminated by particles and liquids sucked from the ingredients.
Dag-and-drop User Interface
A key requirement of the system is that it should be easy to use. The "recipe" for constructing the food product is created using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. The system can be easily taugh to recognise new ingredients by following a straight-forward training procedure.
Specially trained technicians are not required to operate the GRAIL Robot System.
The initial development of the GRAIL Robot System received financial support from a grant under the DEFRA LINK Advanced Food Manufacturing Programme, AFM249.