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by Rocky Paul, May 8, 2018, 6:19:50 PM | 3 minutes |

Artificial Intelligence to ensure hygienic food in trains

The much-maligned catering services of the Indian Railways are all set to undergo a major ‘technological’ revolution for serving hygienic food right at your seats with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Besides rationalising its decades old menu, the Railways catering arm Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will also now go green with use of environment-friendly food containers and biodegradable wrapping of the cuisines.

To begin with, all the 16 base kitchens at the IRCTC headquarters in the national Capital have been installed with high definition cameras connected to huge monitors for AI vision detection.

The system is so precise that it can track any rodent or cockroach in any of the base kitchens. With use of AI, the report of this foreign object will reach in real time to various stakeholders right till the IRCTC Managing Director.

The move has been expedited following Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s emphasis on the use of AI and innovations to transform the face of the Indian Railways.

“The AI system, known as Obots, will be used to improve upon catering units. The system is capable of tracking any anomaly in the entire operation of catering. Suppose if a chef or any kitchen supervisor is not wearing their uniform, including the mandatory cap, the AI system will track that and, automatically report to the server which will then send a report to the mobile of concerned contractor immediately. If the matter is not addressed within 15 minutes, it will further be reported to IRCTC authorities in charge. If no action is taken at this level too, then it be will escalated to IRCTC MD,” explained a senior railway official. The official said the system will be made fully operational soon.

The catering system has been spruced up after the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) last year apprised Parliament about flies, insects and dust, and rats and cockroaches found in trains and food items. The report had also said unpurified water straight from the tap was used in preparation of beverages, waste bins were not found covered, not emptied regularly and not washed.

“We will be able to check all such issues through our new robust system being undertaken by the IRCTC. Simultaneously, food items will be served in biodegrade use and throw bagasse (the dry pulpy residue left after the extraction of juice from sugar cane) giving no scope to reuse the existing culinary used now,” said the official.

Another step to improve upon catering is to remove one toilet each from over 40,000 train coaches to provide sufficient space to keep food trays and beverages in the coaches. Currently, food items are  kept in the vestibules near the toilet area.

Sources said the Railways is also working on new menu ‘formula’ to stretch serving timings and make it comfortable for passengers to consume at certain intervals. The Railways is also taking steps to ensure that passengers are served certain items like pickles, sauce, butter, sugar etc, only on demand. This is because many passengers do not consume these and they take them away when they de-board.

Source: The Pioneer

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