The RoboStir is a kitchen product “scientifically designed” to automatically stir as you cook. The gadget employs the power of physics, “magically” moving its silicone feet around the bottom of your pots “so nothing sticks and nothing burns!” it promises. The RoboStir can be found online for around $9.99. I was actually able to pick one up for $2.99 at a local Christmas Tree Shoppe in Hyannis, Massachusetts.
Now, the concept of robots helping out around the kitchen is not a new one. In fact, as far back as the 15th century visionaries like Leonardo Da Vinci predicted engineering machines of all kinds. Leonardo himself actually drew up a humanoid robot of a knight that could sit up, wave and move his jaw, all operated by pulleys and cables. By the 1920s and 30s the first modern robot prototypes were brought into existence (most notably by the Westinghouse company), though it would take a few more years before they were found to be at all useful. That would eventually happen in the late 1950s with George Devol’s industrial robot called Unimate. General Motors would go on to adopt the Unimate, utilizing it on their production lines.
Since then we’ve seen the intelligence and capabilities of robots grow at a trajectory similar to that of Moore’s law. Smart Robots can now be found in a wide range of scenarios, from deep underwater wells to operating rooms. They become more and more human as control systems and memories become more sophisticated (see: Honda’s ASIMO robot).
Powered by four AA batteries , the RoboStir isn’t exactly out of George Jetson’s kitchen. The little robot is simply supposed to serve as a 3rd arm for its chef. It vibrates at three different frequencies, using gravity to initiate a clock-wise rotation, which does make the device rather top heavy.
I boiled some pasta to see if RoboStir held up in the heat and lived up to its claims. After letting the device run for seven minutes in the pot, the pasta cooked well without any boil-over, and the little guy survived. Yes, stirring simmering sauce isn’t quite an every day challenge unless you are say, running a soup kitchen, so most consumers will find this gadget neat but far from crucial. That said, the RobotStir comes at a very low cost, and works as advertised. The Drop Test has to give it a pass.