Robots. Everyone knows they have been coming, some might even think they will take over someday. Robots have had an increasing presence in human lives over the last half-century. They are utilized in a variety of field including space exploration, car manufacturing, military operations, and surgery. Robots have helped humans reach the level of scientific discovery and technological development that exists today. Moreover, robots have entertained. Just picture that shark from Jaws, or WALL-E, or C-3PO. Robots are usually thought of as futuristic, but now the future is here and robots are participating in ordinary tasks where they are doing everyday things like cooking and serving as staff at a hotel.
Believe it or not, the U.S. Military is constructing robots that can learn to cook from watching YouTube videos. Specifically, one military organization called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding this project and perfecting how a robot mimics the actions that it sees on-screen. It is unclear why a defense agency is teaching a robot to cook, but here is how it works: A robot chef-in-training will observe a video of a human chef doing something, for example, cracking an egg into a bowl. The robot will then reproduce the action and pretty soon it will have fried and arranged a batch of french toast on a plate without any human assistance.
The cooking robot is apparently getting pretty good at this too. According to a statement made by DARPA program manager, Reza Ghanadan, a robot recognizes objects with 79 percent accuracy, recognizes grasping techniques 91 percent of the time, and predicts accurate actions 83 percent of the time. Like other robots, this cooking robot can be programmed to remember what it has done. So, the hope is that it will be able to teach other robots what it has stored in its memory. This robotic technology currently belongs to DARPA, but who knows, maybe someday television viewers will get to see a cook off with some real iron chefs.
It may feel like a trip to the future since robots are not only cooking, but serving in a hotel, but it is real and it is here. The Japanese Hen-na Hotel, which opens in the summer of 2015, will be staffed by robotic clerks, porters, housekeepers, and a coat room attendant. The cooking however, will probably be done by one of the 10 human staff members that will be board. The Hen-na Hotel is located in the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki and will likely to be a vacation destination for not only its service, but for its spectacle.
This move to robotics will not only be attractive to hotel visitors, but will also help cut down on labor costs and ideally make the business more profitable. Guests will see a low cost in the hotel prices and the minimum room rate will probably be around 60 US dollars. If the Hen-na Hotel and its 72 rooms are successful this summer, there will be plans to open another robot-staffed facility in the next year.
In 2015, what was once pictured as a scene from a sci-fi movie is actually happening. Robots are cooking, serving, and shaping the future here in America and abroad. Who knows how soon it will be until robotic helpers make an appearance in the average hotel or home.
By Emilee Prado