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  • Automated grapefruit slicer

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    For most humans, the task of cutting out segments in a grapefruit is simple. We have a substantial amount of dexterity along with direct feedback that enables us to cut around the pulp of a grapefruit with relative ease. However, an automated machine is much less capable, especially one which is constructed under a limited budget. The main challenge is trying to account for the large variability present from one grapefruit to another. We hoped to be able to cut many different types of grapefruit, including ruby red, white, and dark red varieties, as shown in Fig. 2↓; including multiple varieties causes more problems in variability. Furthermore, no physical dimension of a grapefruit is guaranteed: the widths of the segments typically vary by a factor of at least two; the radial length of segments can be different, even within a fruit, and not perfectly straight; the strength of the pulp and edges depends specifically on the fruit; the rind has variable width; the height and width of a grapefruit varies, especially between species; there are usually seeds that knives must avoid, and so on. We tried to address all these problems and construct as robust a machine as we could, though obviously there will be cases where automatic segmenting is either inefficient or, at worst, impractical.

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