The ability to discern good wine from bad, name the specific brand from a tiny sip and recommend a complementary cheese would seem to be about as human a skill as there is. In Japan, robots are doing it.
Researchers at NEC System Technologies and Mie University have designed a robot that can taste -- an electromechanical sommelier able to identify dozens of different wines, cheeses and hors d'oeuvres.
"There are all kinds of robots out there doing many different things," said Hideo Shimazu, director of the NEC System Technology Research Laboratory and a joint-leader of the robot project. "But we decided to focus on wine because that seemed like a real challenge."