Do you like grilled cheese? Would you rather not make it yourself? If so, then the Cheeseborg by Taylor Tabb, Mitchell Riek, and Evan Hill could be the perfect device for you!
This assembly line-like robot first stacks bread-cheese-bread using a vacuum gripper, and passes the unheated sandwich onto the grill via a pusher mechanism. Butter spray is first added to the bottom of the grill, then the top of the sandwich when present in order to coat both sides. Upon heating, the finished sandwich is pushed into a “food slot” for consumption.
Electronics are controlled using an Arduino Mega, while Google assistant running on a Raspberry Pi allows for voice activation. So the next time you’re hungry, all you have to do is ask, “Hey Google, make me a grilled cheese please!”
Our goal was to make an easy snack even easier. The design combines 7 individual subsystems enabling the assembly, cooking, and serving of a perfect, repeatable, tasty grilled cheese.
A big learning was how challenging it is to manipulate bread and cheese repeatedly. After several iterations, we converged on a vacuum lift mechanism, inspired by industrial robotic manipulation of small electronics. Due to the porosity of bread and the gloss of cheese, it was very challenging to find a mechanism working for both, but vacuum certainly seemed to do the trick!
For the actuation of of the electromechanical subsystems, we use stepper motors and servos combined with linkages, lead screws, linear bearings, a winch, and other mechanical components. For buttering (not pictures) we have a delightful spray butter can attached to an acrylic stand beside the grill.
Beyond the mechanisms, which are controlled by an Arduino Mega, the system is enabled with Google Assistant SDK running on an Raspberry Pi 3B, so the whole thing can be activated just by saying “Hey Google, make me a grilled cheese please!” From there, the machine stacks the bread, cheese, bread, then slides over the platform toward the grill as the buttering station sprays the bottom of the grill. Once the sandwich is placed on the grill, the butter sprays again (to coat the top of the sandwich). Then the grill closes, and cooks for the precise amount of the time for the perfect gooey grilled cheese! Then the grill opens and the sandwich is kicked to the serving slot for a hungry friend to enjoy.