Artificial Intelligence Meets The Kitchen With This Cooking Robot
That’s right – robotic arms that can cook you a Michelin quality meal. Does that sound so awesome you’ll be saving all your pennies to get your own Robo Chef? Or does this terrify you as a major step toward the Rise of the Machines? Whatever your take on it, you have to admit that this is a pretty awesome invention! Let’s take a look…
So What Exactly IS a Robotic Kitchen?
When you see it in action, it’s seriously futuristic. It’s a little like you’ve taken a ride in the TARDIS and landed a couple of hundred years in the future. You select a recipe, and two robotic arms descend from their hiding place and begin to prepare, cook, and serve your food. Each arm has an impressive total of 24 joints and 20 motors, so it’s exceptionally dexterous and capable of completing even those tasks that require precision and delicacy.
Aside from the arms, you also get an above-counter unit, a hob, a sink, a countertop, and storage. Which, given the sheer level of cutting edge robotics technology, is a pretty good deal at $15,000. Yes, it’s not the cheapest gadget you could purchase, but it’s got huge potential – and you do essentially get a whole kitchen setup.
How Does the Moley Robotic Chef Work?
First off, it’s not magic. Nor are the arms truly intelligent. It’s all brilliantly put together tech and robotics. Surprisingly, the articulated arms are capable of achieving all the same functions of human hands with the same grace, speed, and sensitivity. The arms respond to your commands via an iPhone app or the touchscreen mounted on the wall of the kitchen.
Now obviously it has to get its cooking know-how somewhere, and the prototype and the first planned consumer models learn their skills by mimicking every movement of BBC’s MasterChef winner Tim Anderson. The chef is recorded cooking each recipe in the library, using motion capture cameras, and the data is uploaded to the robot. The robot copies what it sees to complete the dish. You can take a look at some of the available Moley recipes here, and get a feel for the interface.
Keeping safety in mind, the unit comes with a fire extinguisher system and a thermometer to ensure your food reaches a safe temperature. When the robotic arms are activated, a glass window closes over the cooking area. When the robot isn’t in use, the arms fold up and out of your way, so you’ve got easy access to your kitchen.
The design team are working on refrigeration and storage units, so the robot can go find its own ingredients, according to the recipe you select. Combined with the remote app, this means that you’ll be able to get your robotic friend to prepare a meal that’s ready when you get home.
What’s Planned for Future Developments?
Right out of the box, you get a library of over 2,000 recipes, ranging from family favorites, including an array of desserts, to gourmet-style dishes. There’s plans to engage celebrity chefs, as well as the world’s best chefs, to create additional recipe packs that you’ll be able to purchase separately like you’d buy an app on iTunes. The team is also planning to include motion capture cameras with some models, so that you can teach the system your own favorite family recipes, and you’ll also be able to share your videos with the Robo Chef community. You’ll even be able to earn money by selling your own recipe selections.
At this point, while the robot is super clever, it can’t actually wash up for you – it just puts the pans in the sink, but Moley do plan a dishwashing upgrade, as well as synthetic hands that wash themselves after handling raw meat.
There’s been some criticism about the robot, with anti-robotics, anti-tech, and artificial intelligence protestors claiming this is a step too far, that it has the potential to mess with the economy as there’ll no longer be a need for professional cooks or eateries, and it devalues important skill sets. Others claim that the robotic chef is just a new toy for the rich, lazy, and entitled.
While we agree that it’s awesome when you just don’t feel like cooking yourself, we hardly think it spells doom for professional chefs, or will prevent people from learning how to cook. Nor, in our opinion, will it harm the economy. In fact, Morley has even been approached about getting their robo arms into chef schools, as it has teaching capabilities, too. You also have to look at the other potential applications of this kind of tech – think how useful it would be to those who have a physical disability or are recovering from illness. The company also states that one of the primary reasons for developing this robotic kitchen was to encourage less reliance on processed foods and a return to eating fresh, home-cooked meals on a daily basis, in an effort to help combat the global poor nutrition epidemic. And, after a loooong day at work, who would say “no” to having a fabulously tasty meal prepared for them when they walk in the door?