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  /  Latest News   /  ‘A Tasting Robot’ is What will Dominate the Kitchens from Now On
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‘A Tasting Robot’ is What will Dominate the Kitchens from Now On

Masterchefs take a note! This tasting robot can even teach you the best seasoning techniques!

Already trained to prepare omelets based on human taste feedback, this robot chef has tried nine different variations of the simple scrambled eggs and tomato dishes at three different stages of the chewing process, and created various dishes based on a “flavor map”! Researchers have developed this “Tasting Robot” method that can significantly improve the robots’ ability to quickly and accurately assess the saltiness of a dish compared to other electronic tasting techniques. 

This robotic chef has been trained to taste the food at various stages of the chewing process to assess whether it is spicy enough. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have worked with consumer electronics maker Beko to train cooking robots to mimic similar human processes and evaluate the saltiness of dishes at various stages of the chewing process. Those results can help in the development of automatic or semi-automatic dishes, helping robots learn what is delicious and what is not, thereby making them better cooks.

This “tastes Hugo” method allows researchers to significantly enhance the robots’ ability to quickly and accurately assess the salt content of a dish compared to other electronic tasting techniques that test only a single homogenized sample. 

 

Is the Tasting Robot as accurate as a human?

Taste perception is a complex human process that has evolved over millions of years. The appearance, smell, texture, and temperature of food affect the perception of taste. Saliva produced by chewing helps transport compounds in foods primarily to the taste receptors of the tongue. Signals from taste receptors are relayed to the brain. Once our brain recognizes the taste, we decide whether to enjoy the food or not! 

This robot chef learned to become a better cook by mimicking a similar human process of “tasting” the salty taste of simple egg and tomato dishes at various stages of cooking. The taste is also very unique. Some people like spicy food, others have sweet teeth. Whether amateur or professional, a good cook depends on his taste and can balance the different tastes of a dish into a balanced final product. We will find that most home cooks are familiar with the concept of raising taste. When a robot is used for a particular aspect of cooking, it is important to be able to taste what the robot is actually cooking.

When tasting, the chewing process also provides continuous feedback to our brain. Current electronic Tasting Robot methods only take one snapshot of the homogenized sample, so we wanted to reproduce a more realistic process of chewing and tasting in a robotic system, which is better. You should get the final product. 

The researchers are members of the BioInspired Robotics Laboratory in Cambridge and are led by Professor Fumiya Iida of the Engineering Department. The laboratory focuses on robot training to solve so-called load meter problems that humans can easily find but robots struggle with. Cooking is one of these tasks. Previous tests using the robot “cooking” created a suitable omelet based on feedback from human tasters.

To mimic the human process of chewing and tasting by a robot chef,  researchers have attached a conductance probe that acts as a salt sensor to the robot arm. They prepared scrambled eggs and tomatoes, varying the number of tomatoes and the amount of salt in each dish. The robot used the probe to “taste” the dish in a grid and returned the measurements in just a few seconds. To mimic the change in texture due to chewing, the team then placed the egg mixture in a blender and had the robot test the dish again. A flavor map of each dish was obtained due to the difference in the measured values ​​due to the difference in the “chew” location. Their results show that the robot’s ability to assess salt is often time-consuming and significantly improved compared to other electronic test methods that provide only a single reading.

Although their technique is a proof of concept, researchers say that by mimicking the process of human chewing and tasting, robots will eventually be able to produce food that humans can enjoy and adapt to their individual tastes. When a robot learns to cook like any other chef, it needs clues as to how well it worked. The robot should understand the concept of taste. It helps the robot cook better. 

Beco’s vision is to bring a safe and easy-to-use robot home. The development of robot cookers will play a major role in homes and home care facilities in the future. This result is a step in robotic cooking, machines, and deep learning algorithms. By using it, the robot cook will be able to adapt to different dishes and user preferences by chewing.

In the future, the researchers want to improve the robot chef so that it can taste different types of food and improve the ability to sense so that it can taste sweet or fatty foods. For example, a robot chef trained can make omelets.