Man versus machine

28 January, 2011
Page 39 

Following last issue's revelation that Disney had patented 'augmented reality' cake projectors to transform your humble celebration cake into a story-telling device, this latest advance in cake boffinery will have you quaking over the future of your craft (and indeed, humankind).

Students at an engineering college near Boston in the US have engineered a robot called AutoFrost, for piping messages on to cakes. It works by the operator drawing a message onto a basic paint program, which is then piped by the robot. I can tell the bakery engineers out there are salivating, so here's the techie spec to whip you into a froth of frosting possibilities:

"The programming sends commands over PySerial to two Arduinos. The first Arduino controls the motion of stepper motors which drive threaded rods to move the cake in the x and y axes. The second Arduino controls a servo, which dispenses frosting from a plunger. All of these systems, working in unison, transform a user design on a computer into a beautifully frosted cake."

One slight drawback: the pictured cake took 12 minutes to frost. Pah! Humans 1 - Robots 0. Nevertheless, the future man vs machine cake making conflict has been set in motion. Sharpen your piping bag nozzles, this one is going to get ugly.

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