Robots Should Replace Cafeteria Ladies, Say Students

An online survey of school-aged children reveals that students desperately want robots in the food service industry - in the cafeteria in their own schools.

"It's kind of The Jetsons or Star Trek meets the lunch line," says Sharon Olson, co-founder of Y-Pulse, which maintains offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Alexandria, Virginia. "Some responses along these lines are far-fetched to be implemented right now in school foodservice settings, but the answers are fun to read and show that students are technologically savvy and big thinkers about the role automation plays in their lives. Some suggestions for automation may even be do-able down the line."

Here are examples of what students want robotics-wise, in their own words:

  • "The kitchen would have robots to cook, so that it could be made really fast."
  • "Automatic serving machines would serve perfect portions. After being a regular customer in this 'dream kitchen', the technology would recognize your favorites and least favorite foods. You wouldn't have to stand in line, and it would always be moving because there would be no traffic."
  • "There would also be a robot that tended to your every need, and he would give you all your orders on time!
  • "A machine that you can tell what you want to eat and it will automatically give the food to you. This machine has a built in dishwasher, oven, and garbage can."
  • "It would also be cool if we had a computer where you could order and a robot brought you your food."
Not only are sf writers ahead of their time, they are in tune with our deepest childhood wishes. 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 Anthony Boucher's robot chef)

I'd also say that the dreams of these school children are closer to reality than they (or the survey makers) might think. Take a look at these videos; follow the links to learn more.

(Cook Robot Learns By Demonstration video)

Sometimes kids like a little something different; how about a robot cook making octopus balls?

Source: Kids Want to See Robots in Foodservice.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/3/2009)

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