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!

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The chief cook robot

We feel the need to apologize immediately for the use of Yakkity Sax in the preceding video and recommend you watch the longer, yak free, video below. It shows researchers at the Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory teaching a robot how to make a ham and cheese omelet. Each working area and food item is labeled with a machine recognizable tag. The researcher demonstrates the task by guiding the robot’s hand. The robot combines multiple demonstrations to generalize the skill. It can then adapt the learned skill to the specific task. You can see this in the video when the robot adjusts to the location of the bowl and cutting board when they’re moved around. Teaching through demonstration would make the use of robotics much easier for the general population.

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