Photo: Melanie McMullen
If you have retail customers who sometimes need a hand at the bar, the right solution may (literally) be a hand—a smart robotic one that can mix, stir and shake a customer’s perfect cocktail in a little over a minute. This IoT technology is already on duty at The Tipsy Robot, a bar that opened this summer in the popular Million Mile shopping mall on the Las Vegas strip.
The bartenders there are two robotic arms manufactured by KUKA Robotic Corp. of Germany, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of robot technology and autonomous system engineering solutions. The Tipsy Robot’s design and functionality is powered by Italy’s Makr Shakr, a robotics company that focuses on food and beverage industrial applications. The same robotic duo technology is in use at the bar on four different Royal Caribbean cruise ships.
The KUKA robots are fully customizable. At The Tipsy Robot, the two robotic arms operate independently of one another. The drink-making system is highly efficient: with its staff of two robotic arms and eight employees, the bar can produce 120 drinks per hour and 1,440 drinks in a day.
At the heart of the automated bar installation is a futuristic platform that contains all the required traditional bar systems and utilities. The core structure integrates the robotic arms, along with liquid dispensing systems, garnishes, ice dispensers and all other functions needed to prepare a variety of mixed cocktails.
Here’s how the system works. As a customer walks into the bar, they order their drinks on one of 33 tablets, choosing a specialty cocktail or creating one of their own. Pineapple Planet and Galactic Grapefruit are among the most popular mixed drinks in the eclectic lineup, which includes both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties. All drinks are $14, and the robots don’t accept tips.
The customer’s order and first name appears on a digital screen at the front of the bar, which displays the drink choice and ingredients along with the time estimate for the drinks arrival. One of the robotic arms then pours, mixes, shakes and creates the beverage in about 60 to 90 seconds. The customer pays via the tablet and enters an email address. Once the drink is complete, the customer receives an email with a verification code to release the drink, and the robot slides the drink onto the dispensing platform, where a conveyor belt system slides the drink down the bar for easy customer pickup.
Photo: Melanie McMullen
In their spare time, the robotic arms slice fruit or dance to the soundtrack of Top 40 hits. Customers can return their empty glasses, which will be rinsed and washed by another robot. The robots are also self-cleaning, to ensure against contamination.
Masters of Technology and Mixology
The Tipsy Robot was brought to life by hospitality industry leader Rino Armeni. Its drink menu and signature robotic cocktails were developed by master mixologist Francesco Lafranconi, who wanted to provide a drink list and allow customers to mix up custom options, creating a highly social, digital environment.
The app is the core of the Tipsy Robot experience. It allows customers to log in, create a user profile, see existing drink recipes or create new ones, and process the order. Ultimately, the customer can share their experience both within the application and on external social platforms. The platform also gathers data and displays real-time statistics via a digital screen in the bar. The data shows the quantity and type of drinks served each day, so customers can see which drinks are the most popular.
Image: Makr Shakr
The bar’s human staff, known as “Galactic Ambassadors,” help customers interact with the robots and the delivery process. They also snap photos of customers with their drinks for real-time social media posts. The bar also has an old-fashioned, human-operated bar in the corner, in case a customer wants a specific drink not on the robot’s mix list.
A Robot Walks into a Bar
The Tipsy Robot is among a growing list of new consumer and business robots with specific functions. According to BI Intelligence, that segment of the robotics industry is surging. The multibillion-dollar global market for robotics, which has been dominated by industrial and logistics uses, is shifting toward new consumer and business applications, resulting in what may become a $1.5 billion market for consumer and business robots by 2019.