Robots Mix, Flip Pancakes Made From Scratch

Rosie and James are two robots with a special set of skills - together they can make beautiful perfect pancakes from scratch. I'd like to be watching the real-life scene depicted in the following video in my own kitchen while sitting at the breakfast table sipping chai and reading tech news on my iPad. Minus the photographers, of course, since I'm just sitting there in my bathrobe.


(Robots make pancakes)

The latest experiment brought together two different robots: James, a $400,000 robot from Willow Garage and Rosie, a robot from the Technical University Munich. The two robots are among the most sophisticated and advanced humanoid robots today.

James has two stereo camera pairs in its head. The four 5-megapixel cameras are supplemented with a tilting laser range finder. Each of the robotís forearms has an Ethernet wide-angle camera, while the grippers at the tip have three-axis accelerometers and pressure-sensor arrays on the fingertips. At the base of the robot is another laser range finder.

The PR2 is powered by two eight-core i7 Xeon system servers on-board, 48 GB of memory and a battery system equivalent to 16 laptop batteries or about two hours of battery life.

Rosie has two laser scanners for mapping and navigation, one laser scanner for 3-D laser scans and four cameras, including two 2-megapixel cameras, one stereo-on-chip camera and a Swiss-Ranger SR4000 time-of-flight camera.

Note that these robots perform many of the mundane tasks that humans do while making food; most of the existing robot chefs require a fair amount of work from helpers (like the octopus ball making robot), or perform just parts of the process (like the pancake flipping robot).

SF fans have been dreaming of robotically-created from-sctratch comestibles for a long time. Consider the robot chef from Robinc, a 1943 short story by Anthony Boucher:

"Half your time in cooking is wasted raching around for what you need next. We can build in a lot of that stuff. For instance, one tentacle can be a registering thermometer. tapering to a find point - stick it in a roast and - One can end in a broad spoon for stirring - heat resistant, of course. One might terminate in a sort of hand, of which each of the digits was a different-sized measuring spoon..
(Read more about Boucher's robot chef)

Don't miss my science fiction food section. Via Wired.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/24/2010)

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