There are a lot of perks when attending developers conferences and Google I/O –– from hands-ons with new technologies to free Google Chromebook Pixels –– is no different. But there's one perk that stands apart from the rest: robotically dispensed booze.
The mixture of alcohol and robotics is named Makr Shakr, and, unlike other robotic bartenders, it can craft a wide-range of custom cocktails and actually mix drinks, rather than simply dispensing them like other systems. While the drinks don't have to be alcoholic, they do have to be ordered through Makr Shakr's smartphone application, which can track how much, and how fast, a patron gulps down their boozy drink, giving a patron an estimated blood alcohol level.
The drink delivery system consists of three bright-orange arms, mixers and 100 different types of liquids –– from orange juice to rum –– you'd find at a bar. The arms mimic the movement of human bartenders thanks to capturing the motion and gestures of Italian étoile dancer, Roberto Bolle, adding human twists and shakes where appropriate. The whole system was made by dedicated minds at MIT's Sensible City Lab, in collaboration with Coco-Cola and Bacardi.
Thirsty attendees can order any drink they want through the smartphone application –– even concoctions they may have crafted on their own — and the robots will make them. When done, the drink is placed on a conveyor belt which delivers the drink the attendee. Patrons can also order and rate drinks crafted by others, one of the features most floated by its designers.
But does this spell the end of the bartender as we know it? Probably not. While system has its supporters, it also has its detractors. As Stacey Higgenbotham writes for GigaOm, such devices can be profitable –– thereby removing the human element –– at a scale.
"In Austin, Briggo Coffee, is a robotic coffee-dispensing robot (it's shaped like a giant cube) that allows you to order your cup of Joe on your smartphone on the way into work and pick it up from the cube at a set time," Higgenbotham said. "Let's also not forget that in the heart of SoMa at Lemnos Labs, Momentum Machines is building a robot that makes hamburgers. And in Amazon's warehouses robot pickers abound."
If the robots are going to come for our jobs, at least they can make us drinks first.