Attention aspiring meat cutters: You may want to consider another line of work. Popular Science has video of the HAMDAS-R, a robotic ham de-boner, in action. And it's knocking out 500 hams an hour, which apparently is twice as fast as the fastest human ham cutter.
While the robot is pretty incredible, and we'll get back to its stabby knives in a second, it's fairly amazing to consider that one man or woman could break down 250 hams in an hour. That's four hams a minute. Think about how long it takes your dad to carve the Thanksgiving turkey.
While speed is certainly important, the big step forward is apparently that the robot can reliably differentiate between the meat and bone. This is critical when it comes to
overthrowing its human masters, dealing with ham or other foods of different sizes and slightly different consistencies.
The irregularity of meat meant that people need to be doing the cutting. Rather than see a story about how we've managed to produce identical ham hocks -- although I have no doubt that cubed ham is in the works -- I'm glad to see that we're attempting to adapt our production models to differences in nature.
If you want to see the HAMDAS-R in action, here's video of how robotic arms sort, position and slice up hams. Maybe save it for after lunch.