Robotics in the Kitchen



The robotics industry has been taking over almost every part of our homes, so how can the kitchen be spared from this revolution? The next generation of kitchen appliances is here , and this time the goal is not just to aid humans, but to replace them from the kitchen altogether.


What are Kitchen Robotics?


For most people, cooking is an arduous task. It’s monotonous and requires a lot of mechanical steps. Kitchen robotics aims to employ an actual mechanical robot to carry out the mechanical tasks.


Generally, any robot that can aid in the process of cooking can be classified as a kitchen robot. However, the latest kitchen tech includes many robots that aim to not just aid but to take on over 50% of the cooking process and even cook a full meal. These robots are made to have extreme precision and finesse so that you can have a gourmet meal every day.


Overall, there are three main types of kitchen robots currently under innovation: Food Printers, mini appliances, and Robotic Kitchen Arms.


Food Printers


3D Printing technology is all set to take over the manufacturing industry, but its powers are not just limited to printing plastic and metal. Roboticists have developed 3D printers that can 3D Print food items and even make things that are truly edible and delicious.


One of the widely known food printers is the PancakeBot. It’s a 3-axial system which is loaded with pancake batter. The bot deposits the batter in whatever shape you like onto a heated bed which then cooks the pancake. In a similar manner, there are printers that can also print chocolate and other thick pastes. This allows printers to be able to print one ingredient. While these food printers can print many ingredients, they cannot always cook them.


In order to overcome this limitation, a team of engineers at the Columbia School of Engineering is developing a process through which a 3D Printer can print almost any ingredient and even cook the assembled piece through targeted laser technology. The laser can be fine-tuned to either gently simper the beans or roast through the chicken.


Although true food printer cooking is still in the early stages, food printers definitely have a lot to look forward to in the future.


Commercial Kitchens


In 1948, McDonald’s became the first fast-food restaurant by mechanising their food production. The founders essentially turned cooking into an assembly line process that could be followed by a chain of humans. In the age of technology, this assembly line process is now being taken over by robots.


Companies such as Momentum Machines and Picnic are making robots that can assemble and cook burgers and pizzas at an astonishingly fast pace. These robots are fully unmanned and autonomous. All you have to do is load the ingredients, set parameters, and hit start.


Picnic’s pizza making robot can make 300 pizzas in one hour using a similar assembly line technique for making pizzas. The robot uses machine learning to fine-tune its culinary skills and even learn to make other, similar, types of food.


The makers of the Creator robot at Momentum Machines worked with actual chefs in order to learn the technique of slicing the meat vertically along with the grain. This allows for the meat to cook perfectly and give it a gourmet finish. The robot is much more efficient than usual cooking is even optimised to have maximum power efficiency. The Creator robot is already in use at Spyce, a restaurant in Boston, and will be seen in many other locations soon.


Moley’s Automated Kitchen


Imagine never having to cook and yet having a freshly cooked, restaurant-style, meal every day. Moley Robotics, a UK-based company, has enabled us to do just that. They have created the world’s first fully automated kitchen.


The Moley kitchen consists of all of the latest kitchen appliances operated by a pair of articulated hands. These hands are programmed to handle Moley’s bespoke pots and pans. The robot can cook over 5000 recipes with the skills of a masterchef, and in the same amount of time too. You can schedule meals or have them cooked on the spot through the on-board touchscreen panel.


In order to ensure the quality and consistency of the food, Moley Robotics has worked with many master chefs from across Europe. The chef’s don’t just tell the robot what to do, but they teach it to do it themselves. The chefs cook the recipes in real time and the recorded footage is then transformed into exact gestures and nuances for the robot to follow. Some owners can even record their own recipes to add to the book.


Perhaps the best part about the Moley kitchen is that it is designed to work with humans, so you can still cook yourself whenever you feel like it. Along with residential plans, the company also aims to manufacture commercial robots for restaurants and fast-food- chains.


The future of Kitchen Robots


The kitchen robotics industry began forming in 2015, and it has only grown exponentially ever since. Although there have been some major breakthroughs, there are still many changes to come for kitchen robots.


Food printers are currently under research at many universities. The next step for Food Printer technology is to be able to commercialise it by creating software that can be operated by everyday humans. The transformation from printing the food to actually cooking it can also be radically optimised.


Moley’s automated kitchen robot has the ability to learn new recipes with a machine learning model, however, it is often the case with robotics that the processes effectively used by humans makes for inefficient robotic mechanisms. Moley robotics aims to replicate the cooking process exactly with human hands. This process is sure to see some changes going forward, as newer models of the technology come forth.


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