“Are there any safety mechanisms to make sure it doesn’t accidentally blend my face if I get too close?” I asked the engineer, as I watched two humanoid robotic arms prepare a delicious crab bisque from scratch. The engineer took a moment to respond, not entirely sure of the correct answer. “Well… not really…”
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited along to a warehouse in north London to see what is being billed as “the world’s first automated kitchen.” The system, made by Moley Robotics in the UK, can only make crab bisque right now—and it requires that all of the ingredients and utensils are pre-positioned perfectly. The goal, though, is to have a consumer-ready version within two years, priced at around £10,000 ($ 14,600). The company envisions an “iTunes style library of recipes” that you can download and have your robot chef prepare.
In its current form, the Moley Robotic Kitchen is essentially two very expensive robotic arms, with two even dearer fully articulated biomimetic humanoid hands made by the Shadow Robot Company on the ends. In front of the robot is a kitchen—a sink, a stovetop, an oven, and a range of utensils, including the aforementioned blender. The ingredients are placed in bowls and cups on the worktop. Once everything is set up, an engineer simply presses “start” on the controlling PC, the robot arms whirl around for 30 minutes, and voilà: crab bisque.
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