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What’s for dinner? Whatever robo-chef’s making

Before my wife and I know it, we’re going to be empty-nesters, and that will mean a bit less pressure to get a good meal on the table every evening. I was thinking that maybe we’d start eating out more often, but now I’m thinking this may be as good a time as any to start thinking about a robotic chef. And what got me thinking “robotic chef” was an article I saw last month in The Economist.

A prototype of  a “Top Chef” level robot cook designed by Mark Oleynik was recently exhibited at a fair in Hanover, Germany.

There are some pretty smart food processors out there already, but Olyenik’s robo-chef is a bit more humanoid:

“A pair of dexterous robotic hands, suspended from the ceiling, assemble the ingredients, mix them, and cook them in pots and pans as required, on a hob [Brit for stovetop] or in an oven. When the dish is ready, they then serve it with the flourish of a professional.”

…”The machine’s finesse comes because its hands are copying the actions of a particular human chef, who has cooked the recipe specially, in order to provide a template for the robot to copy. The chef in question wears special gloves, fitted with sensors, for this demonstration. Dr Oleynik’s team also shoot multiple videos of it, from different angles. These various bits of data are then synthesised into a three-dimensional representation of what the chef did while preparing the dish. That is turned into an algorithm which can drive the automated kitchen.” (Source: The Economist)

When the product is released – they’re aiming for GA in 2017 – there’s going to be an online library of 2,000 recipes from celebrity chefs that owners can download. Eventually, folks will be able to add their own family recipes to the mix.

Oleynik’s company, Moley Robotics, will be bringing this robo-chef to market. Click through on the Moley link for a very cool intro demonstrating how it works. Unfortunately, the equipment page is under construction. Too bad: I was hoping to be able to drill down on the technology. Some people like to kick the tires. Me, I like to take a look at what’s on the inside.

I did find a bit more info on GizMag, where I learned that the robo chef uses:

  • 20 motors
  • 24 joints
  • 129 sensors

That’s a lot of technology, but, of course, it’s needed in order to replicate what a human hand (powered by a human brain) is doing. There are 27 bones in a human hand, so that’s 54 moving objects right there…

With a price point of $15K, the robo-chef won’t be coming any time soon to the Catalino kitchen. But it sure is interesting.