In 2017, the U.S. imported $21.5B in seafood. Much of the “imported” seafood was caught domestically but sent abroad for processing due to a labor shortage in the seafood industry. The FISH project aims to re-shore seafood processing.

Project

Currently, much of the seafood sold in the US is caught domestically but shipped abroad for processing. The FISH project aims to re-shore seafood processing, thus reducing the risk of food contamination and spurring economic growth. The estimated economic impact of the FISH project amounts to $20B within 5-10 years. The developments from this project have the potential for application in the meat, plastics, and textile industries as well.

Objective

Re-shore seafood processing through the development of a multi-use robot station that can handle fish and operate in a constrained, collaborative environment.

Technical Approach

The multi-use robot station will include the development of:

  • Visual and tactile inspection and manipulation of nonstandard materials
  • Novel mechanism designs to handle perishable food items

These innovations will enable the station to:

  • Work collaboratively with human workers
  • Pick-up fresh seafood from a tabletop or moving conveyor belt
  • Sort fresh seafood by weight
  • Operate at an accuracy and speed comparable to human workers
  • Operate in temperatures and humidity levels needed for seafood processing
  • Enhance operations by performing dangerous and repetitive tasks, allowing humans to take on more intricate tasks

Participants

Northeastern University (Principal Investigator), Ascend Robotics, Harmonic Drive, MassRobotics, Moog