Tired of cooking your own food, hiring help or eating out? Tired of eating, for that matter? Just kidding. The last one might be for another cyberpunk story. Today, however, I present to you the first robotic chef in the world. For an one time (most likely very hefty) fee, you too could have your very own gourmet chef, at your disposal 24/7. Using its fine mechanical arms, the chef bot from London’s Moley Robotics could potentially cook any kind of food. For instance, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Shanghai this past weekend the robot chef cooked and served crab bisque (soup). Right now this is the dish it knows how to make, but once it’ll start shipping it should come complete with 2,000 recipes, according to the developers.
“Crab bisque is a challenging dish for a human chef to make, never mind a robot,” Tim Anderson, winner of 2011’s season of MasterChef in the U.K., explained to Time Magazine. It was of Anderson’s bisque recipes was taught to the robot. “If [the bot] can make bisque, it can make a whole lot of other things,” he said.
Those familiar with robotics, or simply with yesterday’s post about robots tasked with Amazon warehouse jobs (spoiler: they were lame) might wonder how in the heck will a robot cook dinner. Edible dinner. Well, think of it less of a robot and more like an automated kitchen. I’ll explain in a second. First and foremost, the robotic chef works so well (seemingly since I’ve never ate its cooking) because of its dexterous pair of robotic arms, which come with 24 joints and 20 motors in its hands or enough to mimic any human upper limb movement. That’s precisely how it learns how to cook in the first place. Motion cameras tracked and recorded Anderson as he completed a recipe, then uploaded the movements to the robot. It’s then all a matter of copying and implementing the same procedures in sequence. According to the developers, the chef can interact with any type of hob, oven or dishwasher, once it has been taught how to.
The chef can also be remotely controlled using nothing but a smartphone app, so you can have some fresh food ready once you came home from work.
Like a true chef, this robot is also a picky, obsessive compulsive fellow. For instance, the robot won’t be able to cook you dinner unless it locates an ingredient or if an utensil is knocked out of place. Everything has to be carefully layered out for him. It also can’t chop food, so you’re still stuck with the most boring part.
Moley ambitiously aims to scale the robot chef for mass production and begin selling them as early as 2017. The robotic chef, complete with a purpose-built kitchen, including an oven, hob, dishwasher and sink, will cost £10,000 (around $15,000).
While I’m genuinely impressed by what this robot kitchen can do, I can’t help but wonder if this is a hit or miss. Moley Robotics seem to have a good business plan, and commercial robotics is growing very, very fast. This robot chef might be a bit too early for its own good, though. Packing 15,000 bucks for an autistic chef might not seem like the best investment for most. If anything, though, this is a massive proof of concept. How long until we see robot waiters or bartenders? Will we have any money to attend bars and restaurants in the first place once most people become employed? For some reason, I can’t stop laughing at this point. The future will be exciting, that’s for sure.