Science/Tech

EU spends millions building robot that makes pizza

By Michael Abayateye
Robot

The European Union is spending millions of euros on developing a robot that can make pizza.

The robot has visual sensors in its head to “see” in real time and uses software to train itself to act like a pizza chef. It is learning how to knead, stretch, toss and twirl dough, add ingredients and slide the pizza into an oven.

RoDyMan, which is short for Robotic Dynamic Manipulation, is a five-year project supported by a €2.5 million grant from the European Research Council. The Council was set up by the European Commission in 2007 and funds scientific and technological research.

“Preparing a pizza involves an extraordinary level of agility and dexterity,” Bruno Siciliano, who directs the robotics research group at the University of Naples Federico II told Scientific American.

RoDyMan is learning how to toss and spin pizza dough, without tearing it. The more it practices, the better it gets at the delicate technique, which is beyond the abilities of existing technology.

Researchers hope the project will lead to a more precise and responsive generation of robots.

To guide the robot, Mr Siciliano's team recruited master pizza chef Enzo Coccia to wear a suit of movement-tracking sensors.

RoDyMan will make his public debut at the Naples pizza festival in May 2018 but, according to Mr Siciliano, will never replace the real thing.

“I would never eat a pizza made by a robot,” he said. “It would not have the taste a real pizzaiolo, with his soul, would put in it."
 
Credit: Telegraph