Let’s face it, robots are going to take over the world. But before these mechanical servants round us all up and plug us into the Matrix, they’re going to do our bidding, and this now includes tasting our own food. Cooking can be fun, but it can also be a pain. But now you can have your own bona fide robot “chef” doing the tasting for you! Your taste buds deserve a break from all the useless taste tests that you subject them to while you fight to get that perfect dish. Just have Rosey the Robot taste everything and Gordon Ramsay will be begging for you to run his show!
In a new study published in Frontiers in Robotics and AI, researchers from the University of Cambridge trained their robot chef to assess the saltiness of a dish at different stages of the chewing process, imitating a similar process in humans.
Their results could be useful in the development of automated or semi-automated food preparation by helping robots to learn what tastes good and what doesn't, making them better cooks. Hopefully this won’t lead to us meager humans being the main course, though.
When we chew our food, we notice a change in texture and taste. For example, biting into a fresh tomato at the height of summer will release juices, and as we chew, releasing both saliva and digestive enzymes, our perception of the tomato's flavor will change.
The robot chef, which has already been trained to make omelettes based on human taster's feedback, tasted nine different variations of a simple dish of scrambled eggs and tomatoes at three different stages of the chewing process, and produced '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 flavors is right," said Grzegorz Sochacki from Cambridge's Department of Engineering, the paper's first author. "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."
Act now and your fancy new robot “chef” will even taste your Thanksgiving turkey for you! Well, the technology isn’t quite there yet, but one day. In future, the researchers are looking to improve the robot chef so it can taste different types of food and improve sensing capabilities so it can taste sweet or oily food, for example.
Robots are going to conquer us all, but for now, they get to taste our food for us!
As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!