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Japanese Noodle-Sorting Robot Has Forks For Hands

INTERNATIONAL: An automated system with a humanoid robot that can help package noodles was displayed at a recent Tokyo technology exhibition as a solution for food manufacturers struggling with labour shortage.

The 1.5 metre-tall robot "Foodly", developed by a Japanese robot developer RT has an image recognition system to capture the food that is in front of them.

The robot with its fork-like hands then picks up the mock noodles and places it on the blue conveyor belt that also works as a scale developed by Yamato Scale. The belt will weigh the noodles to be packaged into the black containers.

The robots can pick up up to 500 grams of noodles or other food including chopped vegetables, and fried chicken.

The joint development of the automated system by RT and Yamato Scale comes as Japan struggles to cope with the dwindling workforce in the food manufacturing industry, and as factory workers voice concerns over the working environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic where they commonly find themselves in confined spaces.

Replacing some workers in factories with these robots can cut labour costs and secure better social distancing between staff, according to Yamato Scale representative.

The firm is considering putting a roughly $250,000 USD price tag on the robot system but has no concrete plans for commercialisation.

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