New generation of chef robotsMonday, March 1st, 2010 by Chan Yie Leng
Have you ever wondered about hiring a robot housewife who could make spaghetti alla carbonara, seafood okonomiyaki, or even a feijoada?
There are many chef robots in the market nowadays that can supply you a meal. For instance, the University of Carnegie Mellon has just completed the development of Snackbot after two years of research. Snackbot is equipped with a laser navigation system that is worth $20.000, sound sensors, and a Point Grey Bumblebee 2 camera that works as the robot eyes and give you the impression that it is starring at you. It has an embedded laptop where you can type what you wish: a cereal bar, a can of coke, a tuna sandwich, etc. Snackbot circulates around one of the university’s buidings.
Snackbot is not the only robot chef available in the market. There are plenty of those. In 2006, Fanxing Science and Technology, a Chinese company, based in Shenzhen developed the AIC-AI Cooking Robot with a $250.000 investments. This Chinese robot is believed to be the first chef robot. It can cook, fry, boil, and bake thousands of Chinese dishes from three different regions of China. Tempting !!!
In 2008, a Swiss Polytechnic School, Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory, developed the Chief Cook Robot who can make omelets. You can choose the raw materials such as ham, cheese, mushroom, etc. In the same year, in Japan, the Osaka Museum of Creative Industries developed a robot who could make takoyaki (fish ball).
In 2009, in Japan, there was the presentation of robots in the International Expo of Food Machinery and Technology who are able to make okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) and sushi.
Well, to sum it up, there are many types of chef robots under research and development. Whether they are going to be popular or not, it depends on many factors. One obviously is the price. A simple task chef robot costs at least a few thousand dollars. Another factor is the economy; Japan, for instance, is facing high levels of unemployment so even though it is a very technology advanced country, Japanese still don’t see the chef robot with good eyes as they may be taking a human’s job. However, one factor that depends on the robot manufacturers and designers is the human-machine-interface that is still very primitive because robots still don’t have the human five senses. They still don’t know how to deal with, for instance, ice and breaking eggs perfectly. Anyway, the cost of owning a robot chef is still not affordable for my pocket so I’d better do my own meal but it would not be a bad idea to have chef robot to cook for me a nice Sichuan fried rice or a seafood okonomiyaki after a tiring day.