Researchers develop robots that learn to cook by watching YouTube videos

5 Jan 2015

In a bid to continue the capability of artificial intelligence (AI) in robots, a team of researchers claim to have successfully developed robots that can learn cooking skills simply by watching YouTube videos.

The researchers from the University of Maryland and the National ICT Australia (NICTA) have been trying to crack the secret to developing AI capable of learning on its own merely from observing, rather than being required to receive direct commands from a human operator.

To show what their latest development is capable of, the researchers placed their robots in front of screens that showed 88 YouTube videos of people teaching how to cook particular dishes.

Using their developed software, the researchers claim the robots were able to analyse the movements of the chef in the videos with his/her hands and also noted the objects being used by the chef to determine how the process is completed.

According to, the researchers then asked the robots to perform the tasks they had just watched and appeared to show a high level of accuracy.

The team’s paper, Robot Learning Manipulation Action Plans by ‘WatchingUnconstrained Videos from the World Wide Web, will now be presented at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference in the US at the end of the month, with hopes it will impress attendees.

Robot chef image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic