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Robotic arms will soon invade home kitchens but in a good way. UK company Moley Robotics, is rolling out special robotic kitchens that can prepare “Masterchef-quality” dishes using pre-set recipes from top chefs around the world.

Inforgraphic showing a robotic kitchen with automated arms cooking food on the stove.

According to the Telegraph, dozens of buyers expressed interest when the robotic kitchen was first unveiled at an exhibition. The fully-functioning units will be for sale in 2018 and will come with a standard kitchen, refrigerator, oven, small appliances, a dishwasher and a big set of robotic arms. The humanoid hands are able to stir, drizzle, and garnish gourmet dishes, which in the past would have taken hours to prepare for a talented chef.

In the case of the sample dish – crab bisque – Moley Robotics used a recipe prepared by Masterchef 2011 winner, Tim Anderson. The machine recorded his hand and body movements in a 3D film. The robotic kitchen follows Anderson’s hand movements from the video, in order to imitate his exact motions through machine learning and an algorithm. There will also be a library of recipes to choose from.

Artificial Intelligence in Your Kitchen

While this invention will surely make home kitchens more tech-savvy, developers went to great lengths to ensure that it would be accepted by human users.

“Many people who watch the robot have an emotional reaction to it,” says Alina Isachenka, Moley’s operations manager, adding, “It was really important to make sure it wasn’t scary. It would have been more cost-efficient to use a two or three-fingered gripper, but people may be scared by that – they don’t want a two-fingered robot in their kitchen.”

It was really important to make sure it wasn’t scary.

More importantly, the robot hands were made to work at human speed, truly mimicking the pace of a human chef. What the robotic kitchen lacks, however, are the instincts of a seasoned cook who has spent years working in the kitchen. This is partially made up for by the collection of fabulous recipes from top chefs, which is almost like having your own private chef to prepare meals.

The robotic kitchen also preserves cultural heritage and heirloom recipes in its digital library. Forbes reports that the initial units will cost between USD 92,000, but the price is expected to become more affordable ($25,000 per set) over time.

Mark Oleynik, the Russian CEO and Founder of Moley Robotics, believes that the robotic kitchen affirms the continued expansion of Artificial Intelligence. He was quick to stress that humans have no reason to fear the presence of AI or robotic arms in their home kitchens.

“A key part of the development process ensures the safe and consistent operation of every meal, within normal parameters,” he said. And while you may need WiFi for pulling in new recipes, recording a new dish or sharing your work; the database of recipes that comes with the kitchen is available offline. What’s more, the robotic kitchen can always be used manually too.”

While the robotic kitchen is seen as an intriguing and possibly disruptive force in the food and technology industries, this type of tech is still years away from truly replicating the expertise of a trained chef in the kitchen. Food has to be carefully measured and placed into the robotic kitchen for it to prepare meals, nonetheless, it is a step on the road to automating high end and gourmet cooking. The robotic kitchen is yet another application of AI and robotics merging with daily life.


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