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Faculty Recognition

Awarded Federal Grant to Study Robot Kitchens

The grant was awarded to Cal Poly's Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group.

The Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly has been awarded a grant of over $700,000 from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the social and ethical impacts of robot kitchens, which are already at work in some restaurants.

The four-year project will anticipate the effects of robot kitchens on society, kickstarting the first extensive conversation on the subject.

Philosophy professor Patrick Lin, the principal investigator for the new project and director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group, explains, “This project will help to draw out the hidden and very broad impacts of technology. By focusing on the trend of robot kitchens that’s just emerging from under the radar, there is still time for technical and policy interventions in order to maximize benefits and minimize harms and disruptions.”

Automating kitchens can have far-reaching impacts, from cooking techniques to community effects.

The Cal Poly research team includes faculty researchers from the College of Liberal Arts as well as the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. They are: Patrick Lin and Ryan Jenkins (philosophy), Jennifer Jipson (psychology and child development), Anya Foxen (religious studies and women’s, gender and queer studies), and Shohreh Niku (food science and nutrition). The project is also supported by Susanne Gartner in the Grants Development Office and Stephany Martin in Sponsored Programs at the Cal Poly Corporation.