Dad-Engineered Bot Makes World's Most Whimsical Pancakes

Rachel Tepper Paley
January 31, 2014

In 2011, Miguel Valenzuela’s three-year-old daughter innocently asked him to build a pancake-making robot using LEGOs. No biggie, thought Valenzuela, who (unlike most flapjack-flipping dads) has an engineering background.

And so the PancakeBot was born, a robot capable of producing Mickey Mouseshaped pancakes

Three years later, PancakeBot has become Valenzuela’s obsession. Recently he completed the most complex PancakeBot program yet—one that makes intricate, seahorse-shaped creations. (Watch the video above, and be awed.)

"The programming is really simple," Valenzuela told us. “[The robot] takes coordinates from a drawing [in modeling software program AutoCad] and it just turns them into vectors. That tells the motors how many degrees to turn, and that’s what draws [the pancake],” he explained.

Yeah, real simple.

Valenzuela dreams that PancakeBots might one day be installed in places like Disneyland, where children can make pancakes to resemble their favorite characters. In the meantime, he offers open source building instructions for PancakeBot on his website, which are available to anyone willing to build one of their own. And he’s already been tasked with developing more programs for the breakfast bot; it turns out his two daughters have already become bored with seahorses. 

"They’re like, ‘Ugh are you making a seahorse again?’" Valenzuela said with a laugh. "Now they’re a little spoiled."