"Let our bot get you drunk!"
If there’s a better sales pitch for the seamless integration of consumer robotics into our everyday lives, I don’t know it.
"Bartendro" is a godsend for those who enjoy a good cocktail but don’t like to fiddle with precise measurements (or obscene bar tabs); it is, quite simply, a robotic bartender, minus the apron, surly demeanor, and knack for conversation.
The Kickstarter project from the good folks at Party Robotics (great name!) relies on a dispenser board which uses the same processor as an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi computer to dispense precise drink concoctions to within a milliliter.
Party Robotics uses peristaltic pumps which — despite the team’s assurances that theirs are not to be used in medical applications — are renowned for their use in this vertical area.
"The most challenging part was figuring out how to dispense liquids to be consumed in a safe and sanitary manner," says co-founder Pierre Michael. "We started with valves and flow meters that always retained residue in the crevices even after cleaning. We tried iteration after iteration of peristaltic pumps of our own design, but they just weren’t satisfactory."
According to the company, the food-grade tubing can be cleaned in about 5 minutes.
Since the project uses open-source hardware and software, the drink combinations and applications are endless.
Their modus operandi says it all:
"Have you ever made or had a cocktail that was really perfect but was elusive to recreate? Have you ever wanted to know more about cocktails without drinking a lot to acquire the knowledge? We did. We wanted a machine that could pour complex cocktails in any size...."
The interface seems simple enough — Raspberry Pi sets up a wireless access point, creating a WiFi network called Bartendro, which you can then connect to from any device to access their main drink menu screen.
Party Robotics claims that Bartendro can dispense cocktails in less than 10 seconds, and one bot can serve more than 200 drinks in one evening, though I’d hate to see how filthy the tubing is by that point.
Bartendro seems like a great addition to any party, mancave, or bar, but considering the price, it may be more suitable for well-to-do imbibers.
The company is accepting donations now via Kickstarter and the levels range from $5, which scores you a "thank you," all the way to $10,000, which buys you a custom-branded Bartendro 15 (their "flag ship drink bot" with 15 pumps). If you want to acquire a robotic bartender at a price that won’t break the bank (or force you to cut back on your drinking habits), $499 gets you a Bartendro 3.
The system also has trouble with carbonated liquids, so no Jack and Cokes (for now). Booooo!
I close with a quote from one of Party Robotics’ satisfied customers:
"I look forward to the day when Google Autonomous Vehicles are the norm, and every car is equipped with a Bartendro."