M. S. Thesis Abstract

Design Algorithm of a Novel Computer-Controlled Gripper for a Live Bird Transfer System

Matthew Daniel Summer

Februray 2002

In the poultry industry, the human task of hanging birds on a moving processing line is frustrating and inefficient. Because of these detriments, it is a perfect candidate for automation. The goal of this project is to develop an automated mechanism that will insert both legs of a singulated live bird, into a shackle, at a production rate of 3 birds per second. The focus of this thesis is to develop a simulation algorithm for identifying and analyzing key design parameters that would significantly affect the performance of the gripping process. Once identified, the parameters can be optimized to produce the most efficient design.

The bird is treated as a multi-body system where the legs are modeled as two redundant serial manipulators attached to the birdís torso. The thesis begins with a detailed derivation of the kinematics for the bird motion. Machine vision and a life-sized bird model are used to verify that the kinematics of the simulation is correct. The simulation can then be used to analyze the effects of various design and operational parameters on the systemís performance. The primary design parameters are the pallet trajectory and the gripper profile. Attempts will be made to derive an optimal solution within two design constraints: (1) The maximum joint angles of the bird are known and cannot be exceeded without inflicting damage. (2) Joint torques for the birdís legs should be minimized and continuous to decrease excess stress. Tuning the design parameters will yield the optimal solution.

The final solution will have immediate application in the poultry industry. Realistic mathematical simulation and virtual design could reduce construction costs, manufactured hardware configurations, and the quantity of birds used experimentally. It is expected that the analytical method developed here will provide a reusable basis for future related design optimization problems.