Flipping pancakes

[Petar and Sylvain] are teaching this robot to flip pancakes. It starts with some kinesthetic learning; a human operator moves the robot arm to flip a pancake while the robot records the motion. Next, motion tracking is used so that the robot can improve during its learning process. It eventually gets the hang of it, as you can see after the break, but we wonder how this will work with real batter. This is a simulated pancake so the weight and amount at of force necessary to unstick it from the pan is always the same. Still, we loved the robotic pizza maker and if they get this to work it’ll earn a special place in our hearts.

[Thanks Ferdinand via Flabber]


  1. MiGs says:

    Impressed! It never gets tired, nor does it need to be happy to make food, and the best part is you don’t need to wear a matching shirt every time you go outside!

  2. Anon says:

    @ MiGs

    Haha, well you can’t have sex with it, or, can you?

  3. Dremation says:

    Great, now scramble my eggs and butter my toast and I’ll be happy. So the logic of this is using predictive outcome?

  4. sd says:

    >scramble my eggs and butter my toast and I’ll be happy

    That sounds like prison lingo for something rather unpleasant.

  5. Mikey says:

    @Anon, I suppose you could, but don’t you think that would make the pancakes taste funny?

  6. andar_b says:

    Soon…soon. :p But then the pancake/sex bots will make artificial pancake/sex bots to satisfy their desires, and they’ll run off together and leave us all alone. QQ

  7. MB says:

    @SD Thank you. I will never look at my breakfast quite the same now.

  8. Nick says:

    Do you guys share links with BoingBoing?
    They happened to have the same post several days ago

  9. Piku says:

    Right now McDonalds are watching this and wondering how to train it to flip burgers.


  10. McSquid says:

    i doubt it as long as people are still willing to do it for $5 an hour

  11. fcobcn says:

    WANTED: pancake cooking “personal” trainer for my bot,
    knowledge about spanish “tortilla de patatas” is highly bonused.

  12. That’s pretty weak compared to the first robot arm here: http://rootproblem.blogspot.com/2010/03/technology-ii-state-of-art.html

    This one reminds me of how little use we have for humanoid robots, given the number of humanoids already present. The emphasis is probably more about the machine learning, but there’s no information about that here.

  13. Squirrel says:

    “amount at of force” typo?

    does mcdonalds even flip burgers any more? I thought they just had some machine with two heated plates that’d sandwich the burger and cook it speedily without the need for flipping

  14. Osgeld says:

    yea most do, apparently it was too difficult to teach someone a tiny skill in life

  15. rob says:


    It’s called FAST FOOD. It cooks TWICE AS FAST.

    Figure it out, genius.

  16. BLuRry says:

    Yay! Flips pancakes without breaking them and, most importantly, won’t spit in my food. I’m sold.

  17. BenJ says:

    It really got batter near the end of the video.

  18. BeatJunkie says:


    Thank you very much for the link. I haven’t seen the first and the second vid before.

  19. amodedoma says:

    Barret Tech.’s WAM arm is to drool over. It’s a mad robot scientist’s dream come true. Go check it out!


  20. docstober says:

    The McDonald’s I was at in the late 90’s (it was a decent High School job) had a robot for making fries. Load the hopper with fries from the bags, it filled the baskets and then dropped ‘em and pulled ‘em. All you had to do was tell it how many pounds/hour or some such. They eventually got rid of it because of all the maintenance it needed.

  21. Todd Grigsby says:

    That pancake sounds yummy… (CLANG…. CLANG….)

    As for McDonalds, it would be cheaper in the long run, would never need breaks, wouldn’t get sick, wouldn’t take vacation, you only need one of them, if it gets injured it doesn’t sue, etc.

  22. Totti says:

    50 iterations of to learn to flip pancakes might be impressive!

    However, as a surgery robot the 50 kills to learn how to use a scalpel might be a tiny bit to high, or ? Or imagine they use it as an autonmous operator of an atomic power plant, pilot autonomous robot, ……*booom*

    Well… anyhow this worked out nice for the scientific standard pancake “SSPC”… which means not it work out nice for practical usage. How about more/less weight, bigger/smaller, sticky/non-sticky, lower/higher softness pancakes.

    Guess this is still very tricky to achieve since it requires heavy feedback considerations.

    I would say McDonalds workers are save for the next few years

  23. Justin says:

    The only comment I have is in regards to the rigidity of that pancake! Have you ever seen one that rigid?! Nope? Me either.

    Flippin’ a floppy pancake is a whole different ballgame, heh. Great start, though.

  24. strider_mt2k says:

    Waiter, there’s a Nylock nut in my soup…

    (Oh man…Methinks there’s an off-color joke lurking somewhere in there, too.)

  25. bob says:

    Only a matter if time before machines start flipping people out of 40 story buildings as they conquer the world. We’re all doomed.

  26. wdfowty says:

    Wow…What’s next??? Robots that make our cars, phones, and computers???

    …oh wait…

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