While German researchers have already developed a
robot bartender that can serve drinks ordered at a bar, a collaboration between MIT, Coca-Cola, and Bacardi has done one better. They've created a mobile app-driven robotic bartender that can actually mix and serve drinks to order.
The robot -- called
Makr Shakr and designed by MIT’s Senseable City Lab and CIA Robotics in Italy -- is comprised primarily of three orange robotic arms that can mix and shake up drinks much like a real bartender. The robot made a literally splashy debut at the
Google I/O 2013 conference in San Francisco.
Like a real bartender, Makr Shakr -- a robot designed through a collaboration between MIT, Coca-Cola, and Bacardi -- can mix and shake up drinks according to customer preference. (Source: MakrShakr.com)
Specifically, the robot and its accompanying app work like this: People download an app to their Android or iPhone mobile device, then create both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink combinations. The robot makes the drinks requested with assembly-line efficiency and graceful movements modeled on two professional dancers -- Roberto Bolle, étoile dancer at the La Scala opera house in Milan and principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater; and Italian director and choreographer Marco Pelle.
From a design perspective, the “main goal in functionality was to give the user complete control over a full process with the [drink] ingredients and actions,” Yaniv Turgeman, the project leader from MIT Senseable City Lab, told Design News. The technology “also had to be robust, transportable, and cost-effective for the budget,” he said.
Turgeman said designers decided on three arms for Makr Shakr, “because we simulated the division of labor and used genetic algorithms to divide the tasks between the robots effectively." The robot could work with any number of arms, however.
As Makr Shakr uses its robotic arms to mix up the drink, its movements are visualized on a display screen behind the bar. These movements “mimic the actions of a bartender, from the shaking of martini to the thin slicing of a lemon garnish,” according to the Makr Shakr website. People then can pick up their drinks from the bar’s counter.
Makr Shakr’s creators said that rather than replace a human bartender, the development of the robot was meant to be a “social experiment that looks at how people might embrace the new possibilities offered by digital manufacturing." To this end, the Makr Shakr mobile app also acts as a social network where users can share drink recipes and photos, as well as connect with each other.
Makr Shakr also can do something that a regular bartender can’t do -- at least not accurately: monitor a person’s blood-alcohol level, which is intended to promote responsible drinking.
GTOlover, I agree - actually this is one of the last places I would want to see as a venue for robotic technology. It doesn't make a quality of life improvement by having robots and doesn't warrant the expense. Besides, bartenders are like hairdressers - people want to talk to them. And regarding the argument that a robot can better judge a person's blood alcohol content, if a robot thinks the person has drank too much - how effective is he going to be in talking the person into taking a cab or getting one of his buddies to take him home?
Of course I still go through a checkout line that has a real checker at the grocery store...
I sadly agree with Nancy, rather than utilizing the resources and funds on more important areas for the benefit of people. They are spending these funds on unnecessary wants.
And somethings are meant to be like they are. Just as we own trimers and all sorts of hair cutting equipment, we still feel the need to go to a barbor. Similarly, bartenders are meant to stay where they are. Its just the order of natural things.
That's a really good point, Nancy. I think sometimes these technologies are developed to prove certain things in theory and to improve upon other technologies. Like I said before, the James robot bartender the German engineers built was meant to test some aspects of human-robot interaction. But this seems to be more gimmicky, and as you suggest, perhaps not the best use of an investment.
Yes, GTOLover, that's what makes inventions like this a bit off-putting. The whole idea of a bartender is the social-interaction factor. Bartenders are often amateur psychologists! So that makes the idea of being served by one a bit less attractive. The German bartender was meant to be a bit more interactive; in fact, that robot was built to test social interaction between humans and robots.
Haha, WilliamK...good one! And after that he may have added, "These are not the droids you're looking for." ;) OK, I think this commentary is an increidble digression. So let's leave it at that! Although it all does prove the point that there are some things for which I think robots will never be adequate replacements for humans.
The robot arms bartender is a marketing gimmick and it will be successful until the novelty wears off. Then it can be reprogrammed to be a robot fry cook, which might be a good application for a robot, i that few interact with the fry cook, and it is a challenge to get things cooked just right.
Computer bartender machines have been built quite a few times, using various degrees of industrial type hardware, and having a library of hundreds of drinks. Some worked well and most we never heard about after the initial fanfare. The problems are inherent in food and drink handling machinery, tht it must be kept clean, and clean is hard on machines. So they are either dirty or clean and damaged by cleaning, or damaged by the very products that they produce.
Besides all of that, standard industrial robots simply move too fast.
Good idea, William K. There already are robot fry cooks in China, I think, and you're right--robots probably work best in situations that don't call for social interaction but rather repetitive movements that can end up being quite boring for a human.
I agree Nancy. I had rather have a real person tending bar than a 'bot. Also, who's going to say "hay buddy--you've had one too many". Give me the keys; I'll call you a cab. One other thing, how about the various quantities of each component for the drinks? It seems to me the "formula" would have to be one size fits all. Excellent post though.
Thanks, bobjengr. Yes, it seems most (and even I) would tend to agree with you...we'd prefer human bartenders. Though sometimes when it's really busy at a bar I imagine a robot might be more efficient. And even though this robot can tell when a person's had one too many (theoretically), I'm not sure how it could prevent the person from driving home? Unless it grabs them menacingly with its robotic arm and holds them down, which would be a bit scary!