We've seen our fair share of food-preparing robots and machines, but this contraption inspired by the cartoon "Wallace & Gromit" takes the cake... the pancake.
Bad puns aside, the "Pancake-omatic" was developed for free range chicken company the happy egg co. and will go on display at the Design Museum in London later this month.
We doubt the machine will ever be sold commercially, but it really does appear to make pancakes. It has the look of a Rube Goldberg machine, which the Oxford English dictionary defines as "ingeniously or unnecessarily complicated in design or construction."
Here's how it works: A hen lays an egg, which rolls down a ramp and pushes a wooden spoon that winds up a gramophone. The eggs drops into a holder on the spinning record, which swings around to a bowl filled with the remaining pancake ingredients. The egg is cracked, mixed and the resulting mixture is released in a hot pan, where it cooks for 30 seconds before being flipped onto a plate.
According to U.K. newspaper Metro, design engineer Dermont Doyle found the machine a challenge to build:
"It's no mean feat to create a machine that will break an egg let alone flip a pancake so this project has been a really exciting challenge for the team. ... We hope we've cracked it and our machine encourages others to make their very own egg-inspired inventions."
The machine required a team of four design engineers from Helix design production, who spent more than 200 hours constructing it and another 100 to carry out tests.
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Manufacturing company Suzumo dreamed up SushiBot, which can <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=H8fTrbknOB4" target="_hplink">pump out up to 3,600 pieces an hour</a> or 300 rolls in the same time.
"Let's Pizza" Vending Machine
Pizza from a vending machine? It's no work of fiction -- this invention by Italian inventor Claudio Torghel has been serving Europeans for the last three years. Now, it's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/pizza-vending-machine-lets-pizza_n_1593115.html" target="_hplink">headed to the U.S.</a> It's technically not a robot, but the whole no-humans-involved aspect is just as creepy.
Rheon Encrusting Machine
Ever wonder how your empanada got its filling? The Rheon encrusting machine may be to thank -- it's patented to stuff foods inside other foods, and fast. A factory plant outfitted with the Rheon contraptions can <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/rheon-encrusting-machine_n_1599832.html?utm_hp_ref=food" target="_hplink">pump out 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of a particular product an hour</a>.
The Chief Cook Robot
This little chef needed some teaching, but he quickly got the hang of things. Watch him whip up a <a href="http://www.gearfuse.com/robot-chef-renders-real-chefs-obsolete/" target="_hplink">ham and cheese omelette</a>.
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese dish of savory pancakes, and this guy -- a Motoman SDA-10 robot -- has been trained to make them. Good thing it has <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/24/dining/24robots.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1&ref=technology" target="_hplink">spatulas for arms</a>.
What better way to take all the joy and emotion out of cake decorating than have a robot do it? To be fair, an actual human being has to create the original design, so the creepy factor is much lower with this robot.
Here's a thesis for you: Two Chinese university students created a wok robot capable of <a href="http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2010-04/students-invent-robot-cooks-600-chinese-dishes" target="_hplink">cooking 600 classic Chinese dishes</a>.
Yes, a robot that makes burritos. Wasn't it always inevitable? New York University student Marko Manriquez <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/marko-manriquez-designs-burrito-bot_n_1594138.html" target="_hplink">designed his Burritob0t </a>for a thesis project as part of the school's Interactive Telecommunications Program. <em>Photo by Flickr user marko.manriquez</em>
Yeah, another one that's not exactly-100-percent a robot, but c'mon. It's a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/23/tacocopter-startup-delivers-tacos-by-unmanned-drone-helicopter_n_1375842.html" target="_hplink">helicopter that delivers tacos!</a> U.S. laws prevent this baby from ever taking flight, but its makers envision a customer ordering from a smartphone, which sends along a GPS location. The order is sent to an unmanned drone helicopter near the central taco-making kitchen, its loaded up and the rest is obvious.
Your next <a href="http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2012/05/robot-made-coffee-from-a-kiosk.html" target="_hplink">barista may just be a robot</a>. That's already the case for some students at U.T. Austin, who order coffee from a mechanized kiosk installed on campus.
From the inventive minds of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory comes "Bakebot," which can <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/04/cookie-baking-robot_n_918543.html" target="_hplink">bake cookies from scratch</a>. Does it lick the spoon, too?
Automatic Chicken Breast Deboning Robot
This Japanese robot can <a href="http://eater.com/archives/2011/06/24/japanese-robot-debones-1500-chickens-per-hour.php" target="_hplink">debone 1,500 chickens an hour</a> -- ten times faster than any human. It costs a pretty penny, clocking in at $560,000 a machine.
This robot bartender can't actually pour you a drinks, but can <a href="http://eater.com/archives/2012/04/27/heres-a-robot-that-grabs-drinks-at-your-command.php" target="_hplink">take your order and bring it to you</a>. We're pretty sure it can't listen to you spin a tale of your sorrows, either.
Why turn your wheels of Gruyère when a <a href="http://boingboing.net/2012/06/15/cheese-flipping-robot-patientl.html" target="_hplink">robot can do it instead</a>?