XENIA — Move over, run-of-the-mill Mickey Mouse pancakes. PancakeBot is here and ready to cook.
Darth Vader. Donald Trump. A bicycle. Those detailed designs are no sweat for the methodical griddle-mounted machine.
The Greene County Public Library system owns one of the robots and unveiled it publicly for the first time Wednesday at the Xenia Rotary Club’s Pancake Day.
“You can take a picture and then it’s almost like tracing it into the software,” library spokesman Ryan Ireland said. “And then you import it using a card similar to what you would have in a digital camera, and you put it in there and it actually codes it and puts the batter down on the griddle.”
PancakeBot is even smart enough to allow certain areas of the pancake to cook and darken before moving on to other areas. The robot can be programmed to lay down any design.
Selfie pancake, anyone?
According to Ireland, the goal of having the machine isn’t just to make fancy, well-designed pancakes.
“The benefit is you end up getting a pancake, but the actual benefit is you’re able to teach some of the basic coding and software,” Ireland said. “It’s similar to how we make books entertaining for children in order to teach them literacy. This is a way to teach computer literacies, technology literacies in a way that’s fun and engaging.”
Ireland said the robot will eventually be housed in a soon-to-be-opened technological literacy room at the Xenia Community Library alongside a 3D printer and traditional technologies like sewing machines. He estimated the room would be open in late August or early September.
“As silly as printing pancakes is right now, the kids that are going to be interested in that are going to be future NASA engineers,” Ireland said. “You get them excited about it when they’re younger, and you get them learning those technologies, and they hit the ground running, they’re the type of kids that are going to end up changing the world.”