Are you the sort of gullible idiot with millions of pounds or dollars to splurge on a “robot kitchen”? No, us neither. Hey, when you have a vaporware “startup” offering something like this, what's reality got to do with it?
Moley – for that is this startup's name – is punting a robotic kitchen, which it claims can rival Michelin-starred chefs without involving humans.
“Moley Robotics has created what we feel is the world's first fully-automated and integrated intelligent cooking robot. It is designed to learn recipes, prepare and cook them and clear up after itself,” gurgles its Seedrs profile.
That profile implausibly describes Moley as being worth £37m – exactly who cooked up this ridiculous “valuation” is anyone's guess – and invites investment of up to £1m in return for a princely 2.6 per cent of the company.
Its CEO is one Mark Oleynik, who modestly describes himself on the company website as a “proven trailblazer” and “accomplished PhD mathematician” – and not a lot else. A spot of due diligence reveals he is a Russian national and the company behind this wheeze, Moley Robotics Ltd, was only incorporated three weeks ago.
Listed among the company's personnel are the usual bunch of people nobody's heard of, complete with self-granted executive C-suite job titles. Tellingly, the only two non-C-suite people are a US patent lawyer and a marketing manager.
Who's behind the robotic food, then? One named chef on Moley's website is a Giuseppe Patriarca, who El Reg couldn't locate on Google as a chef other than in Moley's own press releases. The name variously appears as that of a minor Italian volleyball player and also as that of a dead man in Australia.
The other is Londoner Tim Anderson (not, as far as we know, the tech journalist of this parish), who is listed as “recipe development.” On clicking the Linkedin link for Anderson on Moley's website, El Reg was instead taken to Anderson's Twitter profile.
How does Moley's robo-kitchen work? A Medium.com blog post by Oleynik states: “The basic concept of the invention is that the machine records the motions of a human chef, then recreates them. So the robot will only do what a human chef did.”
“We will have a standard food safety control procedure that will allow to detect and exclude all risks,” he adds, using the future tense and thereby bringing one to the conclusion that he doesn't yet have a food safety control procedure. The tech support arrangements he mentions (“There are plenty of excellent companies specializing in robotic tech support. We plan to select one of them as a partner”) suggests Moley is nothing more than a pipe dream.
What actual work has he done, then? “On R&D level, we finished work on product’s architecture and product pack specifications. We completed the visual version of the model, which requires completing a big number of tests of the technology in the simulation mode. We created the data exchange protocol and made the final database for that data. We signed some licensing agreements for the technologies that we will use in the development.”
In plain English, El Reg assumes all that means is he's scribbled some ideas on the back of a fag packet, mocked it up in a CAD suite and asked an actual robotics firm if he can help himself to some of their tech.
Gullible schmucks who stump up £30k to become an “executive platinum member of Moley” will be put on a “priority list to secure a Moley kitchen,” be asked to contribute recipes and act as a guinea pig for others' culinary ideas, be subjected to lunch with the CEO, and receive a weekly grocery delivery. In contrast, splurging £100 a week for a year with Tesco's delivery service comes in at about £26,000 cheaper than this, with no obligation to send off recipes, eat food from strangers or have lunch with a “proven trailblazer.”
Somehow, this project claims to have gained £600,000 of crowdfunded investment already. While the usual bunch of press release bin-cum-black hat SEO link farms respected tech bloggers have made Moley out to be the future of cookery, El Reg reckons it's anything but. Still, if you're the sort of person who puts thousands of pounds into a three-week old crowdfunded company, let us know. ®