Robotic kitchen cooks up a storm in Hanover

The world's first automated kitchen was unveiled at this week's Hanover Messe. It was created by Moley Robotics.

The company aims to produce a consumer version within two years, supported by an iTunes' style library of recipes that can be downloaded and created by the kitchen.

The prototype at the show is the result of two years development and the collaboration of an international team including Sebastian Conran who designed the cooking utensils and Mauro Izzo, DYSEGNO and the Yachtline company, who created the kitchen furniture.

Two complex, fully articulated hands, made by the Shadow Robot Company, reproduces the movements of a human hand, part of the ethos that the robotics system does not cook like a machine – it captures human skills in motion.

Tim Anderson, 2011 winner of BBC Master Chef developed a dish that would test the systems capabilities – a crab bisque – and was then 3D-recorded in a special studio cooking it. The recording captured how he stirred the liquids to the way he controlled the temperature of the hob. His actions were then translated into digital movement using algorithms created between Moley and teams from Shadow, Universities of Stamford (USA) and SSSUP Pisa (Italy).

The Shadow Robot hands use 20 motors 24 joints and 129 sensors to faithfully recreate the exact range of movements of a human hand. The kitchen even 'signs off' its work with an 'OK' gesture – just as the chef does.

"To be honest, I didn't think this was possible," says Anderson. "I chose crab bisque as a dish because it's a real challenge for human chef to make well, never mind a machine. Having seen – and tasted – the results for myself, I am stunned. This is the beginning of something really significant: a whole new opportunity for producing good food and for people to explore the world's cuisines. It's very exciting."

UK headquartered Moley Robotics is now working to scale the technology ready for mass production and installation in regular sized kitchens. Future iterations will be more compact, with smaller control arms but with added functionality in the form of a built in refrigerator and dishwasher to complement a professional-grade hob and oven.

The company is working with designers, homebuilders, kitchen installers and food suppliers to promote the system. The mass-market product will be supported by a digital library of over 2,000 dishes when it launches in 2017. Celebrity chefs can create 3D recordings for endorsed cook books and home chefs will be able to upload their favourite recipes too, and so help create the 'iTunes' for food.