A researcher from the University of Copenhagen has developed the world’s first cheese robot, to help cheese production companies better manage the quality control of their cheeses. The university collaborated with Arla (a Danish dairy company), the Danish Ministry of Environment and the Danish Dairy Research Foundation.
Currently, the robot is helping a dairy factory in Denmark produce Danish Havarti, Danbo, and Maribo cheeses. Klavs Martin Sørensen, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Food Science, expects further rolling-out of the robot to begin within a year, with enquiries of interest already pouring in from a handful of companies.
How does it work?
The cheeses are illuminated with near-infrared light through two thin metal tubes, that are inserted directly into the cheese curds. The light then emits back wavelengths, that are stored as data about the cheese on a computer.
“Dairies are excited about the robot because it provides a partner that can help them nip errors in the bud instead of at the end of the process, as is the case now. They are also happy about the amount of data collected by the robot, all of which can be used to improve cheese production. The robot can never replace dairy workers, but it will be an indispensable tool for them.” Sørensen elaborates.
According to Sørensen, the robot can save dairy companies both time and money by allowing dairies to continuously retrieve information about the condition and quality of their cheeses. It could also be used to investigate several sustainable production methods.
In the future, the robot could be used for testing foods such as meats, fruits and bread, to ensure quality.