Robotic Bartender To Serve Up Libations At Google I/O Conference
May 15, 2013

Makr Shakr Robotic Bartender Will Take Drink Orders At Google I/O Conference

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

During this week´s Google I/O Developers Conference, thirsty developers and engineers will have the opportunity to visit Moscone West Convention Center, whip out their smartphones, and order a refreshing libation.

Technophiles and the socially anxious will no doubt find something to love about the Makr Shakr, a three-armed Sam Malone which has been trained to mix 100 drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Unlike the sturdy, Go-Your-Own-Way style of Malone, the Makr Shakr has been designed to move like an Italian ballet dancer and is the product of a corporate sponsorship between Bicardi and Coca-Cola. With a few taps of a smartphone, this robot begins mixing together the ingredients of your beverage before serving it up in a branded plastic cup. Bicardi and Coca-Cola got some science help from MIT´s Senseable City Lab in making this robot which project leader Yaniv Turgeman believes will be a huge advancement in creative culture as a whole.

“The number of drink combinations is almost limitless,” said Turgeman, MIT´s project leader, in a press statement. “The magic moment will be watching the formation of a bottom-up bar culture, as we close the loop between ℠co-curating´ and ℠co-producing,´ in real time.”

Yes, Turgeman believes this robot to be a social experiment, a way to better understand human interaction by adding more robots to the mix. Through the specially designed app, bar goers can share their drink concoctions (complete with pictures) with one another and through the usual social networks. Like a real-life bartender of old, the Makr Shakr can slice a lemon, shake a martini and even multitask in its computer chip-brain as it keeps a running queue of which drinks need to be poured next.

The MakrShakr team also brags that the robot goes beyond human capabilities by measuring alcohol consumption and blood alcohol levels. Though the three-armed robot can measure this based on equations and hard data, any experienced bartender can certainly measure consumption, and while they may not be able to physically subject a customer to a breathalyzer, they know when to cut a rowdy patron off. On the other hand, it´s likely more difficult to drunkenly argue with a robot when it stops serving up the spirits.

"Makr Shakr is a great example of how digital technologies are changing the interaction between people and products," said Carlo Ratti, MIT´s director over this project. "The system explores the new dynamics of social creation and consumption - 'design, make and enjoy' - allowing users to design their own cocktail creations, while digitally controlled machines transform these designs into reality."

Though we´re constantly growing farther away from a “Piano Man” world every day, the Makr Shakr isn´t here to turn tending bar into an antiquated profession. This is more performance art than product demo from a partnership which believes “Digital connectivity is not replacing physical interactions, but rather reinforcing them.”