The notion of a kitchen with a built in robot chef capable of whipping up a lobster bisque at the push of a button sounds like something out of Futurama. But it technically exists — at least as a demo prototype. UK startup Moley Robotics has been working on the concept for several years now, starting off in 2014 and showing off a demo unit last year.
Of course it’s a very far cry from a concept prototype to robust product commercialization, especially with a robotics project as ambitious as this clearly is. Food preparation can be chaotic at the best of time. Throw in a pair of robotic arms and it sounds like a recipe for culinary creations to go right off the rails and all over the surfaces. But Moley clearly thinks otherwise — and is now hoping to convince investors to buy into its vision for the future of high end kitchens, envisaging a digital bank of recipes for the chef to work from and to which consumers could even contribute.
Today it’s launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Seedrs equity platform with the aim of funding the next steps in its development process. Specifically it’s looking to raise £1 million, offering 2.6 per cent equity, to fund the building of a complete industrial prototype of the robot kitchen — comprising both the workstation, with its built in robot arms, and the various utensils the bot would need to make use of to prepare and cook food.
This first industrial prototype is intended for the European market. Moley says it’s also starting work on designing the production model for the region, intending for this to be installed in new build properties or via a kitchen upgrade to an existing property — with a slated launch for the model of 2018. Albeit, as with any crowdfunding hardware project, never mind one as hugely ambitious as this, it pays to take any such estimated timeframes with a generous measure of salt.
At the time of writing the robot kitchen campaign has already pulled in pledges of more than £400,000 from over 40 investors, so there’s evidently appetite for the concept at least. It remains to be seen how viable and versatile in practice Moley’s robot chef turns out to be.
Meanwhile, it’s not the only startup seeking to take some of the strain out of cooking with a robotic helping hand. Sereneti Kitchen, a TC hardware battlefield startup, showed off an automatic tool designed to help people cook back at CES 2015… Although at that point the robot could only stir, with the aim being to add additional “cooking mechanisms”… Again, it remains to be seen whether this chef bot will ever live to work under kitchen halogen but perhaps there could be a far-off future of TV shows where rival robot chefs battle it out Bake-Off style.