Moley Robotics Wants You to Have a Robotic Kitchen by 2017
Robots that can cook? It sounds like something out of a far distant sci fi film, but it’s a technology that several companies are already working on. However, none is so advanced as the Robotic Chef from Moley Robotics, who have already debuted their prototype model at CES. The Moley Robotic Kitchen is just that, a kitchen setup that with a built in robot that can prepare food, use recipes, and clean up. No, it’s not available yet, but Moley suggests that the consumer launch could be as early as 2017, and priced for normal consumers with an iTunes like recipe library that you can add to yourself.
How was the Moley Robotic Kitchen Developed?
The Moley Robotic Kitchen was designed by Moley, Shadow Robotics, Yacht Line, DYSEGNO, Sebastian Conran (Designer), and Mark Cutcosky (Stanford University Department of Mechanical Engineering). Developing the robotic kitchen required over 12 months of research and engineering, from some of the top designers and mechanical engineers on the planet. Mark Cutkosky, for example, is one of the leading researchers in Biomimetics, and his research on vision for mobile manipulation, including sensors and hand manipulation modeled after the human hand, was most likely used for the project.
What Does It Do?
The Moley Robotic Kitchen is a set of robotic hands connected to a smart screen, which connects to the Internet and WiFi. It uses this connectivity to access a database of recipes and cooking techniques, and then prepares food based on those recipes. Supposedly, the working model has similar dexterity and speed to an actual human hand, which means that it will take the same amount of time to prepare food as most people do.
How Does It Work?
Once installed, it folds into the cabinet above the counter space, and doesn’t come out until activated. Once activated, the Moley chef uses food you have set out to prepare a recipe based on your instructions. At this time, it seems that the robot is unable to access a refrigerator, so you do have to get out all of the food for it, but it will use unpackaged food left out on the counter.
The Moley Robotic Kitchen records your motions, actions, and nuances while preparing a recipe so that it can copy the exact technique. In fact, the current model uses recipes and actions recorded from the BBC’s Master Chef Tim Anderson.
There’s no way to introduce something like the Moley without creating a discussion, if it launches as a consumer model, priced to be affordable, then it’s literally a game changer.
Commercial Use: Commercial use is always something to consider. Fast food restaurants could very easily use something like this to replace real cooks, but not without a bit more development. For example, the Moley needs food out on the counter, and can’t access a refrigerator. In addition, no high end restaurant will ever be able to replace their chef with a robot, simply because people pay for the art, not the food. For that reason, it’s not really likely to affect jobs for the near future, simply because it has too many limitations.
Personal Use: Using a robotic chef, with built in recipes isn’t for everyone, but considering that hundreds of thousands of people hate cooking or don’t even know how to cook, this could literally allow people access to healthy, freshly prepared food based on recipes. With the addition of an app, which would tell these same people what to purchase, the Moley could be greatly beneficial to health and wellness instead of just a time saving tool. In fact, 50% of Americans do not cook, and 28% have no idea how to perform even basic cooking tasks. The result is a lot of takeaway and restaurant meals when there isn’t a spouse or relative around to do the work.
Is it Feasible?: Based on our current understanding of how much it costs to build robotics at this level of sensitivity and mobility, the Moley is likely fairly cost effective to build. You can already purchase fairly decent programmable electric arms for around $60, and while these are much larger and more sophisticated, the final sale price probably won’t be over $5,000. Of course, this could be completely wrong depending on consumer demand and the sensors used in the robotics, but it is fairly feasible at a lower price range. Why is $5,000 a decent price? Most of us spend at least an hour a day cooking, that’s over 300 hours a year, and potentially much more if you prepare breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for kids. If you’re spending 30 minutes with breakfast, 20 for lunch, and an hour for dinner, that’s just over $10 an hour for one year of use, and that price drastically drops when it works for 3-10 years.
Installation: Prices could go up considerably when you consider that you might have to install an entire kitchen unit instead of just a cupboard with your robotic chef. Why? Because it’s extremely difficult to program a chef to use buttons and gas on your existing stove. In addition, if you install their kitchen unit, it could likely simply turn everything on wirelessly, and possibly even access the refrigerator or food storage. For that reason, a single unit kitchen, with all of your appliances installed, makes much more sense.
How much will it actually cost? We don’t know yet, but we will update this article as we learn more.
What do you think?