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Tech of the Week: time to welcome our robotic overlords … into the kitchen?

It’s a pair of smartphone-controlled robotic arms that’s been set over a stove, cooking world-classes recipes that can be downloaded from an online store. It sounds like something out of the Jetsons or Futurama, but it’s all too real, and will be set for sale in 2017.

Called the Moley robotic chef, the robot’s designers and engineers say it’s the world’s first automated kitchen. Created by British engineer Mark Oleynik and his team at Moley, the installation uses two robotic hands that have been developed by the Shadow Robot Company, a London-based robotics firm, who have created products for NASA and nuclear industries.

Shadow Robot claims the robot arms uses 20 motors, 24 joints, and 129 sensors to recreate the movement of a human hand, allowing the robot to recreate Michelin-starred recipes with exact minutiae.

3D-mapping the exact movements of chef Tim Anderson, the 2011 Masterchef UK champion, the robot mimics Anderson in the creation of crab bisque. Every detail and action was translated into a digital movement through the use of bespoke algorithms specifically designed for the robot.

The end result, according to Anderson, was an excellent crab bisque created in less than half an hour. However, the machine hasn’t been taught to use knives, and as it can’t yet distinguish between ingredients, they must be placed in very specific places in a specific order.

One upside to the device is the continuously growing digital recipe library that already has over 2,000 dishes. The idea is that in the future, celebrity chefs will be able to upload their recipes to the library for sale, and collaborate in what could be called the “itunes for food”.

It means recipes will be able to be recreated exactly as the chef envisions; human error will be entirely eliminated, and people will be able to experience the same gastronomic endeavours as if it was prepared by the chef.

“This is a really good way of getting food into people’s homes in the way that you would want them to be prepared. And it takes some of the guesswork out of things like people following recipes,” Anderson says to Reuters.

Moley Robotics says they’re actively working on smaller versions of the machine, with added functionality such as a small built-in fridge and dishwasher. However, the current demo version of the machine has yet to live up to the video that has been presented by the company, and there’s a long way off until consumers can get their hands on this device.

Currently, the earliest available model won’t be released until 2017, and the very first versions will sport a very hefty price tag of US$72,000 (NZ$94,396.70). However, more scaled down versions that are set for 2018 and beyond will see the machine drop down to as much as US$15,000 (NZ$19,666.30).

The price tag might be a little steep, but for people who won’t, or can’t cook, it might be a blessing in disguise.

Let the robotic revolution start, one frittata at a time, we say.

The jack-of-all-trades minion who kind of does a bit of everything, he's also our former resident geek and Reddit fiend. He's now disappeared off somewhere in to the Matrix, but every now and then he resurfaces for a random guest article.

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