April 2020 – Press release from NORSUS (former Ostfold Research)
NORSUS, a leading Norwegian research institute with the vision of contributing to sustainable development through innovation, is proud of participating in RoBUTCHER, a project funded by Horizon 2020 and coordinated by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). The duration of the project is three years starting from January 2020. RoBUTCHER aims to develop an autonomous Meat Factory Cell (MFC) for the meat processing sector using Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Mechatronics and Co‐operative Human–Robot Interaction. The project outcome will be evaluation and demonstration of prototype cell within an operational pilot facility.
RoBUTCHER is a disruptive concept for the meat sector. For NORSUS, the main goal will be to evaluate social impacts of introducing the Meat Factory Cell concept at the slaughterhouse. The evaluation will be seen in comparison to the conventional slaughter and linear cutting process (today’s system). Social aspects such as working conditions, employment generation, health and safety, equal opportunities, working hour and more, are to be evaluated in order to map the social opportunities and barriers to MFC deployment.
Furthering the application and experience with social life-cycle assessment (LCA) methods in the European meat sector will help in defining key performance indicators feasible for the meat sector and industry. NORSUS is also responsible for organizing focus groups in which slaughterhouse workers interact with the demonstrator. The purpose of these focus groups will be to extract information about user needs, how the system will work in practice (given user experience), how design elements can be adjusted to appear more convenient, safe and efficient for workers, and how computer-operator interfaces can be more user-friendly.
The traditional environmental life cycle assessment, a well-established methodology for evaluating the environmental impacts of the food industry, does not assess the pillar of social sustainability. Therefore, more recently a Social LCA method has been introduced to evaluate social impacts for involved stakeholders.
NORSUS, former Ostfold Research (Østfoldforskning in Norwegian) is a national research institute with the vision of contributing to sustainable development through value chain focused innovation. A part of this work consists in developing and deploying theories and methods for understanding and implementing sustainability in society. The main expertise of NORSUS is the life-cycle assessment (LCA) methodology for analyzing the environmental (Environmental LCA), social (Social LCA) and economic (Life Cycle Costing) performance of products and services along a value chain. Ostfold Research performs applied research and development across five theme areas, one of which is Food Products and Packaging. The focus is on applied research, where most projects are carried out in close cooperation with businesses and other organizations. The most important customers and partners are food companies, packaging companies, biorefinery companies, waste management companies etc. NORSUS is also working closely with universities, other research institutes and public authorities.
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), is not 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.
Clara Valente (Norway) project leader task 1.4-1.5: email@example.com
Ellen-Marie Forsberg (Norway) managing director: firstname.lastname@example.org