Researchers from Cambridge University have been working in collaboration with domestic appliances manufacturer, Beko, to develop a new and exciting ‘robot chef’.
The robot has been specially trained to assess the saltiness of a dish at different stages of the chewing process, which is similar to the one we see in humans. Using this method will allow the robot to test whether the food has been efficiently seasoned and in turn, the robot should become a better cook.
So far, the new robot chef has been trained to make omelettes based on human testers feedback - quite the accomplishment when you consider the complexities of it.
During their most recent study, the researchers gave the robot nine different variations of a simple dish to taste. This dish was scrambled eggs and tomatoes. Using the conductance probe that was attached to the robots arm the robot could then create a ‘taste map’ of the dish for each of the three different stages. The conductance probe acts as a salinity sensor, measuring the amount of total dissolved salt content in the dish.
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After testing the robot, the researchers results revealed that the robot showed significant improvements when compared to other electronic tasting methods, which tends to be more time consuming and gather less data.
The domestic appliances manufacturer, Beko, hopes that ‘robots like these can eventually be introduced into home environments, in a way which is safe and easy to use’. In addition, the researchers added that eventually the robots will be able to tweak food that us humans enjoy according to individual taste. How exciting!
“We believe that the development of robotic chefs will play a major role in busy households and assisted living homes in the future. This result is a leap forward in robotic cooking, and by using machine and deep learning algorithms, mastication will help robot chefs adjust taste for different dishes and users” said Dr Muhammad W. Chughtai, Senior Scientist at Beko plc.
Other similar robots being used to test food quality have also been recently developed, for example this robot that tests the quality of cheese.