Cambridge scientists develop robot chef that can cook and check seasoning

Image credit: University of Cambridge

Scientists from the University of Cambridge have developed a robot chef that can not only cook food, but also taste test its creations to check if they hit the mark.

Having been taught previously how to cook an omelette, the robot chef has also learnt to taste food to see how salty it is. When given a plate of scrambled eggs with tomatoes, the robot chef sets to work tasting the food at different stages of the chewing process and creating so-called taste maps of the different dishes.

Now it’s important to understand why the robot chef tastes food at different stages of the chewing process. It’s because when we (humans) eat, our experience depends largely on where we are at in the process. So biting into a fresh, juicy tomato gives a unique flavour. As we then chew it further and it becomes mixed with digest enzymes, the flavour and experience changes.

The scientists who created the robot say it could lead to future developments in automated food preparation. Its 'taste as you go' approach improved the robot’s ability to quickly and accurately assess the saltiness of each dish.

The study authors say there was a significant improvement in the robot’s ability to assess saltiness over other electronic tasting methods, which can be time-consuming and only provide a single reading.

Grzegorz Sochacki from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, the paper’s first author, said: “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.

“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.”

The findings of the research are published in the journal Frontiers in Robotics & AI.

Check out the robot chef in action below:

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