BurritoBot: 3D printing meets fast food
By C.C. Weiss
June 20, 2012
A 3D printer that pops out steaming hot burritos before your very eyes? That sounds like the plot of the next stoner movie turned cult hit. In this case, though, it's actually the thesis project of an NYU masters student. And it's fast becoming a reality.
The first thing we learned about the Burrit0bot is that it needs to analyzed on several levels to be truly appreciated. As the thesis project of recent NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program graduate Marko Manriquez, the idea wasn't conceived as a fast way of preparing a delicious, steaming Mexican meat roll to stifle the midnight munchies. It was far more academic in origin.
"Burritob0t invites critical questions about the food we regularly consume, particularly in regards to fast food (labor practices, environmental consequences, nutritional value)," the Burritob0t website explains. "Mexican fast food is emblematic of the assembly line: it is mass-produced in an era of modern consumables, appropriating a false authenticity. Burritob0t, in turn, aims to encourage dialogue about how and where our food is grown, methods of production, environmental impact, cultural appropriation, and, perhaps most importantly: what our food means to us."
Yeah, yeah, all that sociological talk is really deep and stimulating and all, but we're still talking about a machine that spits out piping hot burritos on command, right? Kind of, but not exactly. The Burritob0t doesn't actually bake your burrito from scratch. What it does is allow you to mix your ideal combination of different types of salsa, guacamole and crema, and extrude it out onto your tortilla. You can control the mixture by way of an accompanying smartphone app.
Unfortunately, there's not much mention of the meat, beans and rice that really make up the bulk of a good burrito. They'd have to be liquified into a fine paste to make it through the machine, anyway, so it's either sloppy, dripping wrap o' mush or add the actual substance on yourself.
The Burritob0t doesn't appear fully functional just yet, so our dreams of a burrito-making machine-servant popping out savory meat treats at our beck and call may never see fruition. Manriquez does mention that he plans to demonstrate the device at a live event sometime this summer.
There are no plans to sell the unit directly to consumers or to a manufacturer with the means to produce it. Instead, Manriquez is focusing on the creative and philosophical aspects of the endeavor. The project is entirely open-sourced, however, and Manriquez explains the build in detail on the Burritob0t website in hopes that end users will build their own and join in the experiment. He also mentions that people wishing to commission a model for home or business can contact him directly through the website.
Manriquez plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in July to raise more money to develop the Burritob0t and experiment with conceptualizations of food and man. He also aims to create an exhibition in which a series of bots make a five-course meal, so there may be some other foodie bots on the way.
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