Robot Bartenders Call The Shots At BarBot 2011 (video)

BarBot 2011 Cosmobot pours
CosmoBot pours a smoking cocktail at BarBot.

You know what I love about geeks? They understand that the only thing better than a nice cold drink is a nice cold drink made by a cute robot. The annual BarBot event attracted a crowd in downtown San Francisco this past weekend, featuring an assortment of homemade robots that all shared a common purpose: getting you drunk. From CosmoBot, the cosmopolitan mixing rocket, to iLush2, the syringe powered fluid injector, the robots did their best to serve humanity while looking cool in the process. I took a few friends to BarBot 2011 to see what the future of speakeasies looked like. Check out the video below to catch all the mechanical mixology in action. While none of these contraptions are ready to replace your friendly neighborhood bartender, BarBot is another sign of our culture’s growing obsession with all things robotic.

When you stepped into BarBot 2011, there was a definite excitement in the air. While some in the crowd were familiar with the BarBot event, many were new to the whole experience. How are they going to serve me a drink? Do I get to make a request? How did they build this thing? The answers to those questions were unique for every robot. A cardboard bot made to look like a retro 50s scifi automaton poured premixed cocktails whenever you banged on a pair of sensor-embedded bongos (in a nod to Ginsberg’s Howl). Others, like the Drink Making Unit 2.0, let you select the exact amount of each liquid (vodka, Midori, Kahlua, OJ, etc) that would go into your beverage. No two bots were alike, and that’s part of the charm of the event. These machines were meant to be more artistic creations than functional bartenders. Actually, most of them kind of sucked as bartenders, taking forever to pour a drink, and sometimes not getting the mixed levels quite right. Still, the attraction of BarBot wasn’t that it would show you the machines that will fill your glass in the future, it’s that it lets you see the ingenuity of humanity as we continue to build robots for every aspect of our lives.

An official precursor to the RoboGames international competition coming to San Mateo later this month, BarBot raises money and builds excitement for its more serious parent organization. As with BarBot, I expect the upcoming RoboGames will show us a variety of custom robots that showcase the craft and commitment of their creators. Unlike BarBot, however, I doubt that RoboGames will involve quite so many drunk 30-somethings pounding on bongos and demanding more vodka-RedBull from a cardboard cutout. (Unless they actually allow me in, that is.)

[image and video credits: Aaron Saenz/Singularity Hub]

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