Thank you to everyone who participated in this Q&A. I have taken many of your ideas, and included them in this answer. The features sections (below) cite your suggestions.
Use a Moley two-handed, ceiling mounted kitchen robot to handle the dishes and cooking implements. Use iKitchen dishes, cooking implements, and custom cabinets. Use an oversized silicone suction cup to gently pick up / put down the top items in stacks of plates and dishes. Use a fast commercial dishwasher and a set of racks. These dishwashers have a three-minute cycle time, a 180°F sanitizing rinse, and automatic drying.
When the iKitchen has prepared the food, it puts it in a "butler's pantry"; humans take the food from the butler's pantry to the dining room. When the humans are done eating, they return the dirty dishes to a dishwasher rack in the butler's pantry.
When the robot is not cooking, it tucks itself up out of the way. A human can cook in the kitchen, as long as they make sure that the robot's work areas are clear before the robot needs to start cooking. "Seasoning to taste" can be done via sliders on a touch-screen app.
The whole system can be built and installed within the proposed budget.
I come up with a hard cost of $ 50,000 - 60,000 (not including "the cost of ordinary walls, floors, windows, and doors"). Some of these prices are based on Seattle-area construction costs; others use on-line prices or a want-to-be manufacturer's hoped-for price estimate. After adding in taxes, project management costs, and other contractor markup, the iPantry and iKitchen might add 70,000 - 90,000 dollars to the cost of a house. I am sure people will come up with ways to increase or decrease these cost estimates.
Effect on House Design
Because most of the cooking in the iKitchen is done by a robot, the kitchen layout can be simplified. For example, there do not need to be windows over the sink, nor near the stove. This allows a linear, one-wall kitchen layout. The iKitchen does not need to be on an exterior wall, provided that the range hood is properly vented to the outdoors. This enables more options for the rest of the house design.
I did not come up with a method for bringing in the groceries (possibly from an Amazon Prime delivery) to the iPantry. I did not address my wife's concern about how the iKitchen would wash and trim "tedious kale" and other awkward foods. I also did not address Separatrix' and coteyr's concern about how the trash/recycling/compost would be taken out. Those issues might make good follow-up questions.
Here are the major features:
About $ 7,000: Dishwasher
A small commercial dishwasher with:
- drying cycle
- enough room to wash platters, cookie sheets, and stockpots
- high temperature (180°F final rinse)
- each "rack" of dishes takes about three minutes, and a couple gallons of water.
The system might need four racks, and room for a fifth:
- one for the iKitchen's dirty dishes.
- one in the dishwasher.
- one in the butler's pantry, for people to put dirty dishes in. (This addresses Dan Smith's concern about how the dirty dishes would be retrieved.)
- one for the clean dishes that are being put away.
- room for whichever rack needs to be moved next.
About $ 15,000: Robotic arms designed for cooking
As suggested by user2720406, the cooking (and dish handling) can be done by ceiling-mounted robot arm(s). In particular, Miroslav Saracevic
suggested Moley Robotics' Automated Kitchen system. It includes a pair of robotic arms and hands, mounted on an overhead crane. Moley has demonstrated a prototype system.
As suggested by Jasen, John, and Whinja, these hands are capable of manipulating the cooking tools, putting the dirty dishes in the dishwashing racks, handling the dishwashing racks, and putting away the clean dishes. They are effectively an iRobot that is restricted to the iKitchen, as suggested by Snowlockk.
A Moley video addresses one of coteyr's concerns. The robotic hands are designed to stay out of the way when a human is using the kitchen. The iKitchen can actually watch the human cook, and emulate the human's motions in new recipes. The human would need to be tidy, so that the robot's cooking surfaces are available when it needs to cook. Unfortunately, the robotic hands are not able to "take out the trash", and it is not obvious how "seasoning to taste" would be done.
Chris H and coteyr asked about the user interface for "seasoning to taste". The Moley video shows a huge touch panel monitor that is used to choose recipes. Perhaps the app could have a "pull-out" "Seasoning" pane. The pane could have icons and sliders for the levels of various seasonings (sweetness, salt, pepper, capsaicin hotness, ginger, and/or other seasonings relevant to the recipe). These settings could default to what was served most recently for a similar recipe. There could even be a toolbar in the pane for choosing different users' settings.
I wonder if the arms can be designed so that one arm can detach the other, put it through a dishwashing cycle, and reattach the second arm.
About $ 2,000: Tools
A set of bowls, plates, pots, pans, cookie sheets, flatware, knives, ladles, spatulas, silicone lids, and serving implements. For compactness, nestability, durability, and microwave-safety, the bowls and plates could be Corelleware. The pots and pans could be induction-range compatible. The silicone lids would have center grips, and would be used as suction cups.
As Erin Thursby recommends, "All dishes must be iKitchen dishes and cookware." There are several reasons for this:
- The iKitchen "will be less likely to malfunction if dishes are a specific size and programmed to go into a specific place, sized for being put away there."
- Induction cooktops can only be used with certain kinds of pots and pans.
- The exact materials and sizes of the pots and pans affect the cooking times.
- Avoiding teflon-like "non-stick" cookware prevents accidentally scratching off the "non-stick" surface, and accidentally burning up the teflon.
- The iKitchen can more easily recognize which proprietary dishes and cookware are microwave-safe and/or oven-safe.
- The iKitchen might be able to notice if a proprietary item has broken, and order a replacement.
About $ 3,000: Refrigerator
A cabinet-depth refrigerator with ice-maker. (Part of the iPantry).
About $ 4,000: Cooking appliances
Hot things, and the ventilation to keep the kitchen cool and dry:
- An induction-range. These are easily cleaned, and have less risk of fire than natural gas ranges.
- A large oven (suitable for cooking Thanksgiving turkeys), a small oven (suitable for cooking cakes or pies, or for keeping them warm), and broiler functionality.
- A microwave oven.
- A quiet range hood.
- An interlocked air inlet that opens when the range hood or house exhaust fan is on.
About $ 2,000: Other appliances
Other kitchen appliances: A blender, a mixer, a toaster, a rice-cooker, a waffle-maker, fire extinguisher, et cetera, as desired.
About $ 9,000: Cabinets
A set of custom cabinets, including the cabinets in the iPantry.
As Erin Thursby recommends, "All cabinets must be iCabinets." The iCabinets can have a place for every thing, and vice versa. There might need to be some empty locations for future purchases.
Ladles, spatulas, and serving implements could be hung from hooks in pull-out drawers. If it is too hard for the robotic hands to removed flatware from stacks, perhaps the flatware could also be hung.
Spices could be stored in pull-out drawers. (Part of the iPantry).
Each kind of bowl or plate would have its own drawer. These items would be stacked.
Here is a method for stacking dishes. The process would be reversed to remove an item from the stack. (cybernard suggested using suction to place the dishes. It addresses Loren Pechtel's concern about getting exactly one item from the top of a stack.)
- The robotic hand(s) would open the drawer.
- One robotic hand would grasp the item to be put away, and place it about an inch above its stack.
- The second robotic hand would grasp an oversized suction cup, and apply the suction cup to the item. My wife has a set of silicone lids (with center grips) that can be used as oversized suction cups. The lids are dishwasher-safe.
- The first robotic hand would get out of the way.
- The second robotic hand would gently place the item on the stack.
- The first robotic hand would then peel off the suction cup.
About $ 1,000 - 5,000: Countertops
Countertops. Post-formed laminate would suffice, but solid-surface or quartz could be upgrades.
About $ 3,000: Butler's pantry
The butler's pantry.
About $ 7,000: Wiring and plumbing
Pro-rated share of house wiring and plumbing costs. Includes sinks, fixtures, smoke alarm, and lights.