This is the PR2 robot. He has come from the future MIT's Distributed Robotics Lab, programmed to bake us delicious pastries. Check out a video of the PR2 making sweet treats while wearing an ominous surgical cowl.

Here's MIT's description of the process, which was spearheaded by graduate student Mario Bollini:

To bake the cookies, Bollini first has the PR2 examine the table using a laser scanner and stereo camera to locate the cookie sheet and butter. All of the other ingredients and supplies the PR2 identifies by color and size. The PR2 then follows a hard code of the recipe, from mixing the ingredients to scraping the cookie dough onto the baking sheet and patting it into a large cookie.

Graduate student Jenny Barry, a member of the Learning and Intelligent Systems Group led by Professors Leslie Pack Kaelbling and Tomas Lozano-Perez, is currently leading a team of under graduate students on programming the PR2 to wipe down the table and open the oven door, so that the PR2 can go from preparing the kitchen for baking by clearing off the work surface to placing the cookie sheet in the oven. To do this, she is employing a technique called hierarchical planning, a means of breaking down a larger task into smaller steps.

The MIT PR2 should have the kinks worked out by next month and will graduate to becoming a full-service cookie baker. In other news, the Technical University Munich have teamed up a PR2 with a pair of robotic arms known as Rosie — this duo was recently programmed to shop for and cook a traditional Bavarian breakfast. Witness the makings of a Cyber-Frühstück.

[Via IEEE Spectrum here and here]