A team of Cambridge University researchers are training a robot “chef” to taste the food while cooking and determine whether it has been properly seasoned just like a normal human being would. The team is training the robot to even develop the ability to modify the flavour of the food based on user preferences.
This has left people wondering if human chefs are on the verge of extinction as machines would be able to mimic them and probably even produce superior results. The Cambridge University researchers designed this robot chef to try out a sample plate of scrambled eggs and tomatoes throughout different stages of chewing so as to grade the flavour.
The robot chef tasted approximately 9 varieties of scrambled eggs and tomatoes during 3 separate stages of the chewing process and produced “taste maps” of the dishes. The results obtained have been published in the journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI and may help towards producing better results in automatic meal preparation by robots by helping them understand what tastes better.
The paper’s first author Grzegorz Sochacki from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering said that most home cooks follow the “tasting as you go” concept to check the flavour of the dish while cooking. Sochacki commented that it is important for the robots to do that as well if they are utilised in particular aspects of food preparation in the future.
As compared to other electronic tasting technologies, the researchers found that the “tasting as you go” approach enhanced the capacity of the robot to judge the saltiness of the dish more accurately and rapidly.
Co-author of the paper Dr Arsen Abdulati, who belongs to the same department as Sochacki, said that people receive continuous feedback to the brain through the act of chewing when they taste food. A conductance probe was attached to the robot, which works as a salinity sensor. This helps the robot chef mimic the human process of chewing and tasting the food.
The researchers are hoping to improve the robot chef even further in the future so that it can produce results for a variety of foods.