Robot Bartender: Should You Still Leave a Tip?

by Jay London on May 17, 2013

in Engineering, In the News, Modern Geekhood, Research

Makr-ShakrThe most prolific bartenders have knowledge of thousands of different drink recipes, but a how about a googol? A new robotic bartender developed by MIT’s SENSEable City Lab makes that claim and more.

The Makr Shakr is a three-armed robotic barman created through a partnership with Coca-Cola and Bacardi USA. The robot’s programmable  mixing system claims an infinite number of drinks and users can submit their own through a mobile app.

From dezeen magazine:

“Users will download an app on their handheld devices and mix ingredients as virtual barmen. They can gain inspiration by viewing other users’ recipes and comments before sending in their drink of choice. The cocktail is then crafted by three robotic arms, whose movements reproduce every action of a barman—from the shaking of a Martini to the muddling of a Mojito, and even the thin slicing of a lemon garnish.”

The Makr Shakr was previewed during Milan Design Week in April and made its official debut at the Google I/O annual developer conference in San Francisco on May 15. The machine was created at Google’s request. A year earlier, they asked the inventors to create a device that best exemplifies participatory design.

The robotic arms mimic the movements of a bartender—a very graceful bartender. The designers programmed the robot’s gestures by recording the movements of Italian ballet dancer Roberto Bolle.

Five SENSEable researchers helped develop the Makr Shakr, including project leader and graduate student Yaniv Turgeman. SENSEable’s 35-person team includes associate director Assaf Biderman ’05, Otto Ng ’12, Dietman Offenhuber ’08, Anthony Vanky SM ’11. Bacardi also has MIT ties; Joaquin E. Bacardi III MBA ‘98 is the company’s president and CEO.

Inspired by Coca-Cola’s Freestyle touchscreen beverage dispenser, the Makr Shakr can create alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The app’s customization system can monitor alcohol consumption and blood alcohol levels and help users self-monitor their intake. Users can also share their recipes and drink photos.

SENSEable City director Carlo Ratti told Boston Magazine that the Makr Shakr will not replace human bartenders and is “more a research platform aimed at the third industrial revolution, where anyone can design and produce.”

Fear not, barkeeps. There are no plans to make the Makr Shakr commercially available.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc Barman May 17, 2013 at 10:54 am

Can you hook it up to the Psychiatrist program?

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Greg June 2, 2013 at 10:24 pm

The idea of a robotic bartender is fantastic. I can imagine how people would handle it at a bar. And I don’t think a tip would be required!

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