These robot woks cook up tasty treats and wash up afterwards

Four MIT students have created what they believe is the first completely robotic kitchen to serve fast and healthy food in Boston. Featuring seven autonomous woks preparing customer-ordered bowls of food via touchscreen panels, Spyce only requires a couple of members of staff to garnish dishes and serve them up, and to pre-chop all the individual ingredients.

The woks, heated via magnetic induction, pick the pre-prepared fresh ingredients from a set of containers above them and, once served up, wash themselves down after every order. Associated Press questioned if this is a sign of a new age of kitchens, but in truth, it’s really nothing new.

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Tech entrepreneurs in the US love to believe they’re the first to create something. We’ve seen it many times before, most notably Bodega, the startup that wanted to get rid of corner shops by producing glorified vending machines with groceries in them. While Spyce is a slightly different proposition – they’re not claiming to have invented something that already existed – it’s yet another example of tech revolutions that aren’t really all that revolutionary.

Over in East Asia the idea of robotic line cooks, especially Wok-based ones, aren’t a new concept. Back in 2013, New China TV ran a segment on Beijing restaurant running with robotic chefs that picked out ingredients and adapted its cooking technique to cater to whatever meal it was producing.

A year earlier another YouTube user posted a video of something similar at another restaurant in Beijing, and there are tonnes of videos of similar robotic chefs dating back even further with meals primarily cooked by robot chefs.

Back in 2015, our own Sasha Muller saw a robotic chef debut at CES Asia in Shanghai, although that was intended for home use rather than in a professional kitchen.

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However, the high-tech offering at Spyce, complete with its modern minimalist decor, certainly seems more appetising at first glance. The MIT grads have also worked with Michelin-star chef Daniel Boulud to develop meals meaning it goes above and beyond simply providing a cheap place to eat. This is a premium offering riding on the novelty of using robotic chefs.

Reviews for the place are generally favourable on Yelp, which comes as little surprise, and the kitchen is open so you can peer in and see the robotic chefs turning their heated drums to make your food. Dinner and a show.

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