Researchers from the University of Cambridge are teaching a robot chef to cook and taste the food just like a human.
The robot is being trained to even develop the ability to alter the flavor of the food, based on the preferences of the user. The findings were published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Robotics & AI.’
According to the reports, the robot chef was designed by Cambridge University researchers to taste a sample plate of scrambled eggs and tomatoes at various stages of chewing and grade the flavor.
At three separate stages of the chewing process, the robot chef tasted nine different varieties of scrambled eggs and tomatoes, producing “taste maps” of the dishes. “The findings may aid the development of automated meal preparation by robots, by helping them learn what tastes good,” as per the reports.
Researchers say that by mimicking human chewing and tasting processes, robots may someday be able to manufacture food that people will appreciate and that can be modified to suit individual preferences.
Mr. Grzegorz Sochacki from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, the paper’s first author, said that “most home cooks are familiar with the concept of “tasting as you go”, which involves checking a dish’s flavor balance while cooking. Sochacki added that it’s crucial for robots to be able to taste what they’re cooking if they’re to be utilized for certain aspects of food preparation.”
The researchers discovered that this “taste as you go” approach considerably increased the robot’s capacity to judge the saltiness of the dish more rapidly and precisely than other electronic tasting technologies that only test a single homogenized sample.
Dr. Arsen Abdulali, the co-author of the paper, said that “the act of chewing delivers continual feedback to the brain while people taste the food.”
Dr. Abdulali added that they intended to mimic a more realistic chewing and tasting process in a robotic system, which should result in a tastier end product.
As per the statement, the researchers attached a conductance probe, which works as a salinity sensor, to a robot arm to mimic the human process of chewing and tasting in their robot chef. They made scrambled eggs and tomatoes with different amounts of tomatoes and salt in each dish.
The robot tasted the dishes in a grid-like pattern using the conductance probe, producing a reading in just a few seconds. To simulate the textural change caused by chewing, the scientists blended the egg mixture and had the robot test the plate once again. Taste maps of each dish were created using different readings at different points of chewing.
Their findings revealed that “robots were far better at assessing saltiness than other electronic tasting methods, which are generally time-consuming and only deliver a single reading.”