Some people love to cook. They can tell you the names of a thousand different herbs, delight in spending hours chopping and dicing and standing over a hot stove, and they have a kitchen that looks more complicated than NASA's flight control center (honestly, I'm just glad that I know how to work a stove).
Or, if they don't exactly love cooking, there are a great number of people who feel as though the results are worth all the effort—who wouldn't leave the chopping or mixing to anyone else.
For most of us, however, after a hard day's work, we just want to take a nap, or read a book, or...do anything really, except cook dinner. And now, that might be possible.
Moley Robotics, a London-based company, has developed a prototype for a “robochef." And before you ask, it is designed for the home. Of course, (unsurprisingly) it is designed for the ridiculously wealthy home. The technology is set to cost close to $15,000. And as a reminder, during the last US census, it was discovered that 50% of US wage earners made less than the median wage, which is just 27,000$ So this will be out of the price range for most people.
However, as is true of all tech, the price will come down in time, and it could open the door to a host of new inexpensive robo-creations: Robocarpenters, robopianists, robodoctors (?). Ultimately, it is the 2018 model that is set to cost 15,000$. Early demo models can be purchased for delivery in 2016 for an undisclosed price.
The new tech was unveiled last month at Germany’s Hannover Messe technology fair. In order to function, the device records human actions in 3D (such as a person cooking chocolate chip cookies), and then it converts these movements into highly precise actions for itself. In order to train it, chef Tim Anderson had his work recorded in a motion-capture studio.
During a demonstration, the robot made a crab bisque; however, it is reported that the robochef can do anything from the basic tasks of a prep cook to the highly advanced dishes made by the most premiere chefs.
According to Moley’s website, they plan to bring a consumer version to market by 2017. They assert that this version of the robochef will come with a library that has in its database of thousands of recipes. It will also come with an oven, a sink, a refrigerator, and dishwasher (yes, it can clean up after itself). Long-term, they hope to make a version that comes with a built-in camera, so that individuals can teach the robochef how to make their own, unique dishes and then upload them to a digital recipe library to share with others.
The device looks a little like a module. The sink etc. are set in place in relation to the robotic arms. Theoretically, you can just drop the whole module into any home for use
Frankly, its hard not be a little skeptical of all of this. How will the two dexterous arms know that they have located the right ingredient? Will things need to be placed in the exact right location in the refrigerator? Ultimately, at the present time, it seems that the robochef will be most useful as an assistant, not an individual cook, but time will tell as the device come closer to fruition.
Founder and inventor of the robot chef, Mark Oleynik, said, “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."