Problem 4 – Peeling Potatoes

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Problem

I find potatoes really awkward to hold when peeling them. I usually end up peeling a bit of my finger as well. If I find it difficult to peel a potato then I can’t image what it might be like for people with something like arthritis.

Possible Solution

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Simple solutions would be to improve the design of the potato peeler or to provide an easier way to hold the potato. There are many designs of potato peelers to improve ergonomics, mainly in the handle, so that it is easier to grip. I have also seen products that hold potatoes while you then peel them; these products are sometimes hand held or are placed on a worktop. There are some good solutions in these areas, however I think the process can be made even easier if we didn’t have to do any peeling at all.

The ideal situation with doing anything that isn’t practical or enjoyable is to watch the task do itself. However the main difficulty of making an automatic potato peeler is that all potatoes are different shapes and sizes, so the machine would have to be able to adapt to be able to peel all of them.

I think using rollers that are on hydraulic arms that can constantly adapt to a rolling potato can move it in a way that allows it to be peeled. This would mean that there would have to be force detectors on the arms and if it detects that the potato is pushing against it then it can retract and similarly push out when there is less force. This would mean that that force is constantly being applied to the potato to push it into the cutter; while it’s being rolled. It will also probably need a camera inside to map how much of the potato has been peeled and so will know when to stop.

If this solution works, it would mean that a potato can be put into the machine at one end and will come out peeled with no effort from the user. It is questionable as to how cleanly it will do the job though.

As always, if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

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