While the whimsical lifestyle of The Jetsons imagined life in 2062, we’re not far off, as seen by this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Much of this has been made possible with advent of the Internet of Things: devices that are connected to the Internet, which can perform a multitude of tasks without any human-to-computer interaction.
The kitchen and food space has provided boundless areas to innovate, from automatic pan stirrers to smart refrigerators with bult-in cameras so you can remotely check if you’re low on eggs. But these appliances are often siloed in functionality when it comes to actually making a single dish, much less an entire meal. That is until now.
This year, Moley, a London-based robotics company, aims to unveil the first consumer-ready prototype of Moley Robotic Kitchen, an end-to-end robo-chef that essentially does everything but the prep (yes, it cleans up after itself too).
A ceiling-mounted device, Moley’s apartaus consists of two robotic arms that move horizontally and vertically along a track the length of a kitchen counter. Its wingspan means it can reach cabinets, the fridge and the sink, and its five-finger robotic hands means it can open fridge doors and kitchen drawers, operate appliances, and pick up or put down items in the same way a person would. Unsure what to cook? A monitor guided user interface gives Moley the ability to access a library of over 5,000 chef-certified recipes.
“Not only does the robot cook complete meals, it tells you when ingredients need replacing, suggests dishes based on the items you have in stock, learns what you like and even cleans up surfaces after itself,” states Moley’s website. To give it its humanistic functionality and high level of reliability, Moley was developed with German robotic company SCHUNK, who put the robo-chef through 11 development cycles and 100,000 test operation cycles.
After six years and £10m spent in development, Moley is designed to be a decent chef more so than another smart kitchen appliance. With two models available, the entire system functions as a fully working kitchen: the “R” model is an IoT-enabled kitchen with optional robot arms, a smart fridge, professional induction stove, oven and sink, while the “X” model includes the aforementioned but also comes with the robot arms. Moley can also be customised with premium finishes including marbles, Corian, onyx countertops, customised cabinets, and customised cookware.
Founder Dr. Mark Oleynik finds many benefits and uses for a high functioning product like Moley: from improving quality of life through homemade, freshly-cooked food, to minimising food waste and CO2 emissions, to creating a safer culinary environment with lower risks of food contamination. The possibilities are even more limitless on a commercial level, where Moley could be well utilised in hotels, restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, and care homes.
Like any fledgling chef, there are some skills Moley is learning. It can crack an egg but it doesn’t quite have the sophistication to peel a vegetable so some prep work on the user’s end will still be needed. Despite this, its intelligence, agility and ability to blend right into the kitchen are impressive. With a starting price tag of £248,000, early adopters may not mind the learning curve if it means gaining a personal chef.