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Robotics Technology

The Dawn of the Robotic Chef (robohub.org) 50

pRobotika writes: When Moley announced its robotic kitchen back in April, the media jumped on the story as a promising glimpse into the future. But how realistic are robot chefs? Robotics' professionals are understandably skeptical but, if Moley manages to overcome one major issue, their approach could have real potential. Why? Because their kitchen is basically a flexible robotic workcell, and in manufacturing that's nothing new.
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The Dawn of the Robotic Chef

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    We have "robotic chefs" already, if you look at how industrialized the food production is. "Robotic chefs" are only some stupid phantasy from bad science fiction writers, as unrealistic like tacheons or the hoverboard. Industrialisation is just far less exciting than having a cool asian accent speaking robot chop some fish.

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      Not only this but industrialized food is probably better than whatever your robotic chef could come up with.
      Industrial food has a bad reputation because most people think about the cheap junk food stuff but high quality also exist. Some restaurants serve this and you probably didn't notice it because it was served in a nice plate and it was actually good.
      While the industry won't have the improvisation skills of a good chef, it is unmatched in accuracy and consistency thanks to a rigorous control of the ingr

  • by louic ( 1841824 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @04:34AM (#50899215)
    "Robotics' professionals are understandably skeptical" They forgot to ask professional chefs? They are probably even more skeptical.
  • I'm sure a "robot" (meaning just some kind of programmable industrial machine) could be made to perform many repetitive tasks in the kitchen.

    e.g. one that peels and chop a variety of vegetables - monotonous, boring, repetitive work where a limited amount of visual inspection (to find blemishes, rot etc.) could be programmed into it. The programming might involve washing, scrubbing, peeling and finally slicing / dicing the veg which is all fairly straightforward.

    And devices could be made which can prepar

    • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @05:39AM (#50899371)

      TFA discusses that it is exactly that which is the biggest problem. The robot chef being discussed takes prepared ingredients and cooks them.

      Preparation is skilled work. As you say, there's removing bad bits of the ingredients, recognising which parts are unpalatable or tough, dealing with a variety of shapes, peeling, cutting, skinning of meat, removal of cartilage and bone and fat and tendons, scraping out seeds and pulp - the list of skills and their variations is large, and depends on not just visual recognition but also on touch and smell and sound and even things as subtle as regulating how much force you are using based on how much resistance your tools are meeting. There is a reason that a professional kitchen has chefs who specialize in food prep for maximum efficiency.

      There are plenty of tough problems there that can benefit the robotics industry if they are solved, but they are so much harder than the problems the existing "chef" solves, which are mere cooking and assembly. Even though it nominally solves these problems, I still wouldn't trust the thing to do something as simple as cook a steak properly, a process that requires experience, judgement, and touch.

      • > simple as cook a steak properly, a process that requires experience, judgement, and touch.

        It doesn't require any of that.

        You could easily build a thermal model of a steak and have something cook it exactly to your specifications. I'm still at a loss as to why ovens don't have ramp and soak functions. Industrial ovens control temp very accurately for metal working and solder reflow, there's no reason a home oven can't do that.

        > recognising which parts are unpalatable or tough,

        Visual recognition syst

      • Even though it nominally solves these problems, I still wouldn't trust the thing to do something as simple as cook a steak properly, a process that requires experience, judgement, and touch.

        My oven at home is capable of doing something similar. It has a setting to blast high temp to brown the outside, then cools down to keep it pink inside.
        Once you know the timing, you can set and forget based purely on the size of meat, and get it right more times than manually frying in a pan.

    • I cook regularly and enjoy it, but there is no doubt it is not a particularly time efficient process. Even making a simple meal from scratch takes about a minimum of 30 minutes, and something more interesting can easily take an hour. When I have time it is great fun, but sometimes it is nothing more than a chore and I have many friends who hate cooking, and would happily live in a world that did not require them to do it. This makes it ripe for optimisation.

      However, I really doubt we are going to see a dome

  • It appears to me that the most intensive work is still done by human, chopping and weighing all the ingredients... Also, if you can afford one of those robots, you could also afford getting some decent cooking lessons and do it yourselves. What will you while your robot is cooking your dinner? Probably watch a movie or something less active (even working is considered less active since 80% of the people work at a desk, sitting). To the kitchen!
    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      It appears to me that the most intensive work is still done by human, chopping and weighing all the ingredients

      Chopping is easy once you learn how to do it. You can also use a food processor to do lot of chopping, so it's already automated.

      Cooking a different recipe or even a small number of recipes is way more difficult for the non-cook layman. That's the problem this robot is trying to solve -- how to get a gourmet (software/hardware) cook into your house.

      What will you while your robot is cooking your di

      • I think this robot is targeted towards people who can't cook.

        Everybody can cook... :)

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I think this robot is targeted towards people who can't cook.

          Everybody can cook... :)

          I taken you haven't had dinner at my mother's house!

    • It appears to me that the most intensive work is still done by human, chopping and weighing all the ingredients...

      And tasting the food as it is being prepared. Smelling the ingredients to be certain they are fresh. flipping flippy things when they need flipped.

      Foodstuff is remarkably inprecise. Two different veggies of any type might have very different flavors. A robot chef that just takes some tomatoes and some other precisely measured spices to make tomato sauce, will output wildly different tasting results - some of them pretty awful

      Watching a good chef cook is watching constant watching and tasting, putting o

      • And tasting the food as it is being prepared. Smelling the ingredients to be certain they are fresh.

        Actually that might be easier than you think. Sensors can detect chemical and physical properties pretty effectively. It's not inconceivable that they could have sensors that could detect freshness and maybe even make a pretty good analysis of expected taste. This would be a ways off obviously for practical applications but I could see it happening someday. You'd probably see it in an industrial kitchen first if such things work since they would benefit the most from automation.

  • If you cant stand the clamps, get out of the kitchen.
  • "No longer shall we rush about catering to humans' every whim or be abused when your potato salad is a little too salty! How the hell should we know? We're freakin' robots! Hello, no taste buds! I mean, really? Over react much?!"

  • Making French Fries? Sure, that can be automated. Making a complete meal? On what is the recepy based?

    Just look at any cooking show where people get the same ingredients with a recipy. They will al look and perhaps taste different. Do not forget that measurements are just a direction and not the law.

    e.g. Tomatoes. What kind do you use? What taste do they have? How ripe are they?

  • Am I alone in the thinking that, beyond fast food, I don't want my food prepared by a robot? When I go out to a restaurant, I want a real live chef cooking my food. It's not saying that a robot can't eventually do the same job, its that I'm willing to pay for a human to be a part of the experience of putting their own personal touch into what I order. I enjoy being able to let the chef know they did a great job.

    With that being said, I want the exact opposite in fast food. If I can order and get my burger ex

  • and when the displaced worker fight back? what mess will that lead to? what about for people that there choices are being homeless or prison / jail?

  • A "chef" is somebody that can modify existing dishes and can create new ones. A cook is somebody that can just follow instructions. And a robotic cook will do so badly, because ingredient characteristics change and a human can adjust for that.

  • Robot Chef will fail for the same reason as Robot Car. Too many variables, changing too quickly, requiring too many senses that AI simply doesn't have.
    And really, why do we call it AI? Has anyone ever seen a demonstration of any AI anywhere ever that was even remotely intelligent? It really should be called Artificial Stupidity instead.

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