Robot chef cooks up a storm

The movements of a chef have been captured in 3D to help create an automated kitchen featuring the world’s first culinary robot. 

Set for commercial launch in 2017, the automated kitchen from Moley Robotics features a dexterous robot integrated into a kitchen that is claimed to cook with the skill and flair of a master chef. Once launched, the system will be supported by a digital library of recipes that can be downloaded and created by the automated kitchen.

Two fully articulated hands from the Shadow Robot Company comprise the kitchen’s key enabling technology, as they are able to replicate the movements of a human hand using 20 motors, 24 joints and 129 sensors.

The robot’s movements replicate those of Tim Anderson, winner of the BBC’s Master Chef competition in 2011.

According to Moley, Anderson first developed a dish that would test the systems capabilities – a crab bisque – and was then 3D recorded in a special studio cooking it.  Every motion and nuance was captured and then translated into digital movement using algorithms created in collaboration between Moley and teams from Shadow, and the Universities of Stamford in the USA and SSSUP Pisa in Italy.

“To be honest, I didn’t think this was possible. I chose crab bisque as a dish because it’s a real challenge for human chef to make well, never mind a machine,” Anderson said in a statement. “Having seen – and tasted – the results for myself, I am stunned.  This is the beginning of something really significant: a whole new opportunity for producing good food and for people to explore the world’s cuisines.”

A prototype system – currently on display at Hannover Messe between April 13-17 – is the result of two years development and collaboration with an international team including Sebastian Conran who designed the cooking utensils and Mauro Izzo, DYSEGNO and the Yachtline company, who created the kitchen furniture.

Moley Robotics is now working to scale the technology ready for mass production and installation in regular sized kitchens. Future iterations will be more compact, with smaller control arms but with added functionality in the form of a built in refrigerator and dishwasher to complement a professional-grade hob and oven.