Robot Chef Learns By Demonstration

This chef robot learns by demonstration; Sylvain Calinon at the Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory (LASA), Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, shows how it is done in the video shown below.


(Cook Robot Learns By Demonstration video)

The robot responds to commands from a Wii Remote; the demonstrator grasps the arms and hands of the robot to perform the teaching phase. In the video, the robot is shown by demonstration how to prepare an omelet.

The remarkable thing about this video is how human it looks to me; it is very similar to the way that you might teach a child by gently grasping their hands to show them how to perform a complex motion.

I can't think of any references to helping robots learn by example in science fiction; perhaps readers can help. I do remember an incident that is similar in Heinlein's 1940 novella Waldo; Waldo Jones (in his orbital home) is teaching a machinist on Earth how to do lathe work with teleoperated devices. Waldo takes control of the man's hands and shows him what to do. Adult humans don't take very well to this sort of teaching technique.

There are, of course, sfnal examples of robotic or automated cooking; consider the automated restaurants from Edgar Rice Burroughs 1912 story A Princess of Mars.

Update 12-Jul-2008: Anthony Boucher contributed to the idea of a robot chef in his 1943 story Robinc:

"Half your time in cooking is wasted raching around for what you need next. We can build in a lot of that stuff. For instance, one tentacle can be a registering thermometer. tapering to a find point - stick it in a roast and - One can end in a broad spoon for stirring - heat resistant, of course. One might terminate in a sort of hand, of which each of the digits was a different-sized measuring spoon..
(Read more about Boucher's robot chef)

End Update.

Don't miss the rest of the robot chef menu; here are two other devices at work - Robot Chef Makes Octopus Balls and AIC-CI Cookingrobot Chinese Robotic Chef. Read a bit more at Sylvain Calinon's website; via Robots.net.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/6/2008)

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