Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

A Robot That Bakes Cookies

August 15th, 2011 / in big science, research horizons, Research News, videos / by Erwin Gianchandani

Ever tried baking — yes, baking — and found it challenging? Well, try teaching it to a robot.

That’s just what a group of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have done. Graduate student Mario Bollini, a member of Daniela Rus’s Distributed Robotics Lab, has spent the past several months programming the R&D platform PR2 robot developed by Willow Garage to bake cookies from scratch:

While the project was originally intended as a simple introductory project, it has turned out to be quite challenging due to all of the nuances involved with programming a robot to follow a lengthy list of tasks, while also employing vision, object detection and executing controlled motions.


To bake the cookies, Bollini first has the PR2 examine the table using a laser scanner and stereo camera to locate the cookie sheet and butter. All of the other ingredients and supplies the PR2 identifies by color and size. The PR2 then follows a hard code of the recipe, from mixing the ingredients to scraping the cookie dough onto the baking sheet and patting it into a large cookie.


CSAIL graduate student Jenny Barry, a member of the Learning and Intelligent Systems Group led by Professors Leslie Pack Kaelbling and Tomas Lozano-Perez, has focused on developing a compliant controller for mixing the batter and scrapping out the bowl. The controller was then applied to opening the oven door.


Bollini spent two months recalibrating the PR2 to perfectly mix flour, sugar and butter, as dry beans were initially used in test runs to avoid messes. Now that the PR2 can successfully bake cookies, Bollini is planning to submit his work to an upcoming conference in September.

Watch the impressive video of the robot in action after the jump…

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

A Robot That Bakes Cookies

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