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Middle school in Seoul adopts robot chefs to help human cooks  

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : November 22, 2023, 11:04 Updated : December 11, 2023, 15:37
Courtesy of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education
[Courtesy of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education]
SEOUL -- A middle school in Seoul has adopted four robot chefs to protect human cooks suffering from cooking fumes, harmful substances generated during the cooking process. Currently, robot chefs are in charge of preparing meals for 645 students.  

Cooking fumes, consisting of particulate matter or toxic gases, are often produced when heating hot oil or other food materials at extremely high temperatures. The cooking smoke contains hazardous substances such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, and some of these compounds can increase the risk of lung cancer.

"Our cooking robots are currently helping canteen workers with dangerous tasks such as cooking fried menus and other hot temperature food," Soonggok Middle School's academic affairs officer Lee Eun-ji told Aju Korea Daily on November 22. Since the beginning of the second semester of 2023, the robots have been used to fry, stir-fry, cook soup and rice, and add ingredients. In a survey conducted by Seoul's education office on canteen employees at the middle school, 86 percent answered that the adoption of robots has reduced their work by 25 to 30 percent.

Seoul's education office has demonstrated the robot cooks through a consortium that involves Hankook Robotics, a robot manufacturer in South Korea, and the Korea Franchise Association.

The adoption of culinary robots is gaining momentum in South Korea. In May 2023, robot chefs developed by Doosan Robotics, a domestic collaborative robot manufacturer, were deployed at a golf event in the eastern city of Chuncheon to serve noodles, fried chicken menus, and hot dogs. In February 2022, four different types of robot chefs were demonstrated at the country's largest army boot camp in Nonsan some 154 kilometers (96 miles) south of Seoul to reduce the burden of military chefs and the risks of safety accidents.

Collaborative robots are also prevalent in factories due to their autonomous operation functions and interactive capabilities. According to data released by Grand View Research, a global market research firm, the global market for collaborative robots is projected to reach $10.1 billion by 2025. 

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