Science may have come to the rescue of cooks who struggle with their seasoning — in the shape of a robot “chef” that can taste food and offer guidance.
The machine, designed by researchers at Cambridge University, is said to assess savoury dishes with greater precision than any technology has previously managed. The results could be good news for those with limited culinary ability: its inventors say that similar automated assistants could soon take on far more cooking duties.
Dr Muhammad Chughtai, senior scientist at Beko, a company that has worked with the Cambridge team on the technology, said: “We believe that the development of robotic chefs will play a major role in busy households and assisted living homes. By using machine and deep-learning algorithms . . . robot chefs will adjust taste for different dishes and users.”
Existing machines with the ability to “taste” food typically offer a single snapshot of a food’s saltiness. The new robot improves on this by testing a dish at various stages as it is mashed up, to mimic the process of chewing.
The researchers say this is a critical step because we learn what a food tastes like only when it is crushed and mixed with saliva and enzymes in the mouth. “Most home cooks will be familiar with the concept of tasting as you go,” Grzegorz Sochacki, who led the project, said. “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.”