Finally, a robot butler that separates Oreo cookies for you

Carnegie Mellon University
Um, put that knife down. HERB, what are you doing? HERB, stahp!

Last week, we saw how a pair of Minnesotan toy scientists put together an Oreo separating machine that can launch hot cookie filling directly into your mouth. This week, researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University are raising the stakes with a robot butler whose sole function is to separate cookie wafers from the cream filling.

Carnegie Mellon's Robot Institute showed off its latest project in a tongue-in-cheek video of the Home Exploring Robot Butler (HERB) trying multiple approaches to separate the cookies, including bashing the cookies with a skillet and stabbing them with a knife. The final approach, however, shows some of HERB’s truly astonishing dexterity at handling these fragile confections.

HERB is equipped with a pair of cable-driven arms and three-fingered hands. Using its semi-human appendages, HERB can pick up an Oreo, separate the cookie wafers, scrape off the cream with a mandolin, and wipe off any remaining cream with a towel before placing the two cookie halves on a plate.

It’s an impressive feat of fine control considering the slightest bit of pressure could crush the cookies. Meanwhile, it’s even more amazing that the robot can manipulate the cookie against another surface without losing its grip at all.

This is probably a little overkill for a cookie-separating job you can do yourself, but I’m not a going to turn down a robot that will work overnight to give me stack of chocolate wafers.

[Carnegie Mellon University via IEEE Spectrum ]

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