The world’s gadget makers have been promising us robot chefs almost as long as flying cars, and we are still waiting…but now the former may be on the horizon at last, and potato peeling and sweating over a hot stove may soon be things of the past. Is your mouth watering yet?
A robotic chef that can prepare professional quality meals in minutes; so claim the engineers at UK-based Moley Robotics. Two fully articulated hands can faithfully reproduce human gestures. They are gentle enough to fold in egg whites; with a masterchef’s touch a soufflé is a breeze.
“If it can mimic my hands and any chef’s hands, then with some work on it there’s no reason why it can’t do just about anything; kneading bread, making sushi – all these things that are very hands-on, for lack of a better term. The scope of what it can do is almost endless,” says professional chef Tim Anderson.
Motion-capture gloves are the key to the robot learning kitchen secrets from the best. Every motion, no matter how subtle, can be captured. Then the actions are translated into smooth digital movement using special algorithms.
“If you can make the right model, the robot does not make mistakes. So it’s fun for humans to make a creative process and keep the boring process for the machine,” says Moley Robotics founder and inventor Mark Oleynik.
Moley says an affordable consumer version of the robot is two years away. And, say developers, if the hands can be taught to cook there is no reason they could not play the piano, learn carpentry and more. Who knows? They might even one day replace celebrity TV chefs, although for some the sight of Jamie Oliver’s hands testing a tender side of ham may be irreplaceable. Some things, it is probably safe to say, remain beyond the reach of the robots.