Top 5 Cooking and Entertaining Tasks Best Left to Your Robot

On Wednesday, The San Francisco Chronicle published an article about Willow Garage, a Menlo Park research lab working to build robots to handle a wide range of domestic responsibilities. Known as PR2s, these buzzing butlers will operate on an open system, allowing, much as Apple did with app-builders for its iPhone and iPod platforms, other researchers to write and adapt software to serve a variety of specific needs -- from newspaper-fetching to burger-flipping.

It's R2D2 in an apron, a personal sous-chef, diligent maid, and attentive waiter squeezed into one hulking white frame. While the prospect of owning a PR2 any time soon is unlikely (even the newer, one-armed, economy model PR2 SE clocks in at $200,000), we can dream, can't we? According to chief executive Steve Cousins, the price will drop -- first from its current lofty house-like height to that of a car, and then hopefully to the equivalent of a household appliance. Read on for what we'd use our robot for around the house and kitchen.

Onion.
Onion.
dennoir/flickr

5. Chopping onions. Our crying days will be over the instant our PR2 arrives, blade in hand, knife skills software thoroughly installed. As our little dude works -- dicing, mincing, and shaving -- we will drink a beer on the couch. This brings us to the next item on our list.

Beer + opener = robot's work
Beer + opener = robot's work
a100tim/flickr

4. Fetching/pouring beer. Much as our first child will quickly learn how to open the fridge and grab dad a cold one, the PR2 will be well-trained in the simple science of selecting a chilled bottle, popping off the top, and ferrying it into the bedroom or living room, where the designated target of instant refreshment will be kicking back, reading or watching a program. The Willow Garage people are all over this one. Just check the embedded video.

risotto
risotto
Flickr/HerryLawford

3. Stirring. Man, we love risotto. The only problem is, stirring for 20 minutes straight puts a cramp in our post-work lounging (as well as our wrists). With the PR2, we'll roll in, saute for a few minutes, get the stock going, add the rice to the pan with the butter, hand our robot a bottle of wine and a wooden spoon, and get over to that couch with a cold beer.



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