British scientists are trying to bridge the gap between man and machine in cozy kitchens.
If you think about it, the kitchen is not really a safe place. Even the simplest of recipes calls for playing with fire (or heat at least if you're into microwaveables). Introducing control to a noncognitive entity might be inviting a recipe for disaster. Especially one comprised of metal alloys. I assume any robot working in my kitchen can withstand hot soup burns of a much higher degree that I could. I would hope my personal robotic chef has a keen sensitivity to my human heat tolerance.
That's exactly what the research team at Bristol Robotics Lab is trying to determine. The Cooperative Human Robot Interaction Systems project is a collaborative research partnership between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England. The team hopes to demonstrate the capability of robots to be able to determine nonverbal communication along with the steps needed to achieve a common goal.
The Director of BRL, Professor Chris Melhuish, explains: "For example in the soup situation, not only does the robot need to know what the goal is (making the soup) but he also needs to know how hard to stir the soup, what it means when you hold up your hand to say enough, to interpret the look of pain on your face if you accidentally get splashed with hot soup, and to stop stirring when told."
For the cost of a few burnt tongues and roofs-of-mouths, this research promises to increase safety in the kitchen of the future. That sounds good to me and, with time, I bet it'll taste good too.