A future path of degeneration seems set: first you reduce your social life to interacting with Little Robot Friends instead of humans, and then inevitably, you start drinking with robots. Hopefully one-night stands with robots don't follow, but a yearly event in San Francisco doesn't seem too worried about this outcome.
BarBot, a fundraiser hosted by the Robotics Society of America (launched all the way back in 1978 when robots were considerably less adept at shaking Martinis) takes its cues from Austrian cocktail-robot event Roboexotica. Inventors bring their mechanised bartenders to the event, demonstrating the many weird ways a robot can create and present an alcoholic beverage. Nerds still know how to party, y'all.
It's a natural marriage when you think about it: cocktails require a very precise measure of different ingredients, and robots can be programmed to carry this out flawlessly. A robot-mixed drink might lack the flair of human interpretation, but chances are it'll be pretty good, and why shouldn't cocktails be automatically dispensed from a robot like coffee from a coffee machine? Monday morning would never be the same.
Now in its seventh year, the two-day BarBot is growing in popularity, with 3000 drinks mixed for up to 2000 human attendees over the course of each evening. So who makes the barbots? Everyone from IBM top research brass to engineering students, and the diversity of entrants is reflected in the different ways their machines work, with spinning transparent cylinders of liquid, flashing lights and clever ornamentation.
This year some bots were upwardly-mobile, touring the floor to tantalise guests with their offerings, while others utilised touch screens and one even took drink order specifications via dance moves on a DDR mat. Sense of humour is key: there was a requisite R2D2 and a steampunk barbot, and in the video you will see delightful classical statues pee out bespoke booze for one very lucky punter. Through this kind of fun interaction between people and technology, the RSA hopes to foster education and enthusiasm for the development of robotics.