Making sushi is an art-form. Chefs train for years just perfecting their techniques in making the delicate rolls, and anyone who’s ever tried making it at home knows that it can end in disaster (at least for me). Jiro Ono is 86 years old (as of 2012), he has been making sushi since he was 10 years old. Three-quarters of a century to reach the point of being the world's top sushi chef. People have to make reservations 3-months to a year in advance to taste the renowned sushi at Jiro's "Sukiyabashi Jiro" restaurant in Ginza, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo, Japan. Food critics put Jiro's work at an unreachable height of perfection. The Japanese government has recognized that Jiro Ono is a "living national treasure" for his contributions to the cuisine of Japan. (Focus of the documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" by director David Gelb)
Then there's the company Suzumo with the complete line of sushi-bots that are able to create these cylindrical masterpieces quickly and efficiently as only a robot could (up to 10,000 pieces an hour for the CSS-MSC model). Actually they are more of an assembly machine rather than a robotic chef, but the company has machines for just about every aspect in making nagiri, rice balls, norimaki (sushi-roll), and inari-zushi (sushi in a bean-bag) to name a few. Some of their machines are made for commercial use like the SVR-SAD S/W which is capable of producing 4000 rph (rolls per hour).
Cooked rice is put in the top of the machine which is then flattened and squared before it hits the assembly line. A thin nori (seaweed) sheet is placed on the bottom of the rice once it’s pressed into shape. From there, the roll moves along the conveyor to which a person places the filling roll on the rice sheet. It then moves along to the folding machine to where it is perfectly rolled in to the final product.
Suzumo also has much smaller robotic machines that are made for the home. The SVR-NNX that can produce thin, medium and thick rolls into three different shapes at the rate of up to 650 rph depending on thickness. All in all, these machines make it very easy for amateurs to quickly produce a very eye-pleasing sushi roll as well as on a mass scale. Can these bots replace master chefs? I’m going to have to say, no.
See more robots in
element14's Robotics group.