The rise of robots in restaurant kitchens has been well documented, with many claiming that the automation of cooking and preparation could act as a solution to the staffing crisis facing the industry.
Burger-flipping and ingredient-shredding robot arms are nothing new, however many detractors of robot technology in kitchens claim that a robot simply can’t replicate a human chef’s ability to taste food as it is being cooked.
That may now be a moot point, as researchers at the University of Cambridge have unveiled a robot that imitates the human process of chewing, tasting and adjusting seasoning, while cooking to produce dishes that are more appealing to the human palate.
How does it work
The robot chef is able to assess the saltiness of a dish at different stages of the chewing process and has already been trained to make omelettes based on human tastes. It provides feedback, tasting nine different variations of a dish of scrambled eggs and tomatoes at three different stages of the chewing process. And it produces ‘taste maps’ of the different dishes.
“Most home cooks will be familiar with the concept of tasting as you go – checking a dish throughout the cooking process to check whether the balance of flavours is right,” said the author of the paper, Grzegorz Sochacki, from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering. “If robots are to be used for certain aspects of food preparation, it’s important that they are able to ‘taste’ what they’re cooking.”