Researchers have created a robotic chef that can flip pancakes and make pizza, in the hopes that it could become a fixture of the kitchens of the future.
TechXplore reports that PR2 has been programmed to follow instructions and can flip a pancake with a spatula and make a pizza — simple tasks for humans, but notoriously difficult for automatons to successfully learn and carry out.
RoboHow, the European project behind PR2, is developing and trialling robots that can competently perform everyday activities, as well as teaching them to understand language and more. However, unlike we humans, who have an implicit knowledge of of how to do everything from unscrew a jar lid to pick up a glass of water, robots’ lack of intuition and limited range of sensory awareness typically make these most basic of day-to-day tasks tricky.
Michael Beetz, head of RoboHow, explained: “Common sense knowledge like moving the spatula to place the pancake on the plate — it’s an implicit knowledge humans have, but it’s extremely hard to make that explicit for a robot.” Robots also have a tough time understanding depth perception, meaning that even picking up a glass bottle from a table can be a perplexing task.
The project, co-ordinated by the Institute for Artificial Intelligence (IAI) at the University of Bremen, and involving researchers from nine European universities, has ambitious aims for the future.
The team envisions developing a cognitive robot that can not only perform complex tasks, but also pick up entirely new skills — even by mimicking humans. Writing in MIT Technology Review, Will Knight explained: “Once a robot has learned how a particular set of instructions relates to a task its knowledge is added to an online database called Open Ease, so that other robots can access that understanding.”
He continued: “These instructions are encoded in machine-readable language similar to the one used in the Semantic Web project.”
So what does this mean for the future? Ultimately, it’s hoped humans will be able to give instructions to robots and teach them to perform new tasks, meaning that the human-robot relationship could grow more symbiotic than ever before.