BeefBot: Your Robotic Grill Master

Have you ever been too busy to attend to the proper cooking of a steak? Well, lament no more, and warn your cardiologist. A trio of students from Cornell University have designed and built the steak-grilling BeefBot to make your delicious dinner dreams a reality.

[Jonah Mittler], [Kelsey Nedd], and [Martin Herrera] — electrical and computer engineering students — are the ones you should thank for this robot-chef. It works as follows: after skewering the steak onto the robot’s prongs, BeefBot lowers it onto the grill and monitors the internal temperature in a way that only the well-seasoned grillmaster can replicate. Once a set temperature is reached, the steak is flipped — sorry, no crosshatch grillmarks here — and cooked until a desired doneness. A small screen displays the temperature if you want to babysit BeefBot — some manual adjustment may be needed after the steak flip to ensure it is cooking evenly — but it is otherwise a hands-off affair. If you don’t mind salivating over your screen, check out the project demonstration after the break.

At first glance you might think this a YouTube stunt, but this is real science. The writeup is exquisite, from the design and fabrication, to the math behind temperature calibration and regulation. Kudos to the hungry Cornell students who slaved over a hot griddle bringing this one to life!

Now that you’re thinking about dinner, but realizing your grill needs an upgrade, consider turbo charging it! Before that, however, if you keep your food in a deep-freezer, here’s a hack that will let your know if it loses power so you can save your steaks!

6 thoughts on “BeefBot: Your Robotic Grill Master

  1. TFW you didn’t work on your end of term project until the last moment AND skipped lunch that day. Why not just attach an arm to the lid so you can close it on top of the steak? Kind of defeats the purpose of using a press like that, when you can just use an electric griddle?

  2. Hot, designed to be unattended grill? Check.
    Low quality, flammable (bonus chlorine gas toxicity when flammable!) and not mechanically rigid build materials? Check.
    Hacks together off the shelf parts due to time constraints? Check.
    Multitude of ways this can fail catastrophically? Check.
    Not remotely better than other cooking method such as sous-vide? Check.
    Would never pass any kind of basic consumer safety? Check.
    Completely lacks the most basic fail safes? Check.
    Bonus pop culture “warning” about steak and your cardiologist from the editor? Check.

    I know it’s a slow time due to the US holidays but come on.

    “Our mechanical design and system are unique and potentially patentable”

    *shakes head*

    “a steak cooking robot does not need to be a 7 degree of freedom robot arm attached to a hyper-intelligent humanoid robot, but rather, can be a few motors and some clever sensing and code.”

    No, it need not be a 7 DOF robot arm but it does need to be a bit more than a single motor without position control and a very basic temperature sensor and code to actually be safe to operate and reliable though.

    Look, this is an interesting idea and I am not saying it cannot ever work conceptually if well engineered (we are working on commercial versions for restaurants and fast food) and I also get this is an educational experience, not a finished commercial product but I am torn between wanting to applaud their efforts while also being reasonable about what they have actually accomplished here and it’s a hard thing to really balance well in the current state it is in.

    I guess if the point is to learn how to use PIC32 processors then that seems to have been accomplished. But I am not sure that all of the stated goals or hype (on behalf of the team or editor) is really reasonable here either.

  3. Yae – I do supervise student projects – but not in the US…

    Sorry for being negative here… this would have been nice for maybe a half-day hackathon themed “inappropriate components for steak frying”… But far from what I would expect a student even from an applied science University. No requirements, Nothing regarding safety, risks whatsoever…

    However – I’m shocked that the editor calls this “real science”
    For me – science is carrying out an experiment that the outcome is not known!
    Certainly this would start with research “how to grill a steak” which is missing here.
    In contrast – engineering is building something starting from requirements and such…

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