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Robot Bartenders Amuse Today, Will Rule the World Tomorrow

Does Sunday's robot bartender competition ensure that robots will be the future masters of humanity? Yes. Yes it does.


Mid-contest maintenance on the Cosmobot.

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When fully loaded, Cosmobot produces icy kamikazes and cosmopolitans on command.

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The inner workings of the R2 Drink 2.

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The R2 takes orders via a convenient iPad app.

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The N.E. Bree-8 is stocked with enough bottles to create 25 "known" cocktails and up to 40,000 of its own (questionable) invention.

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The "brain" of the N.E. Bree-8 ponders its next order.

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Another customer/victim waits for the Drone Shot to do its thing.

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The Drone Shot takes (sort of) majestically to the air, ready to pour booze on the crowd.

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The Drone Shot at rest.

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The Tea Engine is the most polite and refined of our future robot masters.

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Trouble brews in the Tea Engine's dome. Or tea, probably just tea.

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One of the "stations" of the Tipsy Train.

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In its previous life the Tipsy Train was just a humble Lego train set.

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When we heard that the DNA Lounge was hosting a robot bartender competition on Sunday, we assumed this would lead swiftly and inevitably to a dystopian world where robots conquer humanity by pacifying us with excessive liquor, turning everyone into a docile (highly inebriated) slave class.

Our original plan was to burst in, make a scene, and calmly explain, “This is madness, you can’t play God!”, but when we found everyone already calmly submitting to their new robot bartender overlords (who were, after all, offering alcohol) we decided it was best to lay low and collect valuable intelligence for the inevitable human resistance. Here’s a rundown of what the power mad scienticians and robotoligists among us have wrought:

1. First place winner: N.E. Bree-8
Concept: Drunken automated assembly line.

The N.E. Bree-8 is a kind of cocktail assembly line, where a conveyor whips your glass back and forth between automated spouts and measures out portions by weight. It has recipes for 25 “known cocktails,” and if you push the randomizer it can produce up to 40,000 additional combinations of liquors, although it’s anyone’s guess whether you’d want to drink any of them. Perhaps such experiments will be how it punishes human slaves who displease it.

2. Second place winner: R2 Drink 2
Concept: Google cafeteria vending machine with mind of its own.

Most robot bartenders go for a retro or analog look, but the R2 Drink 2 incorporates slick Silicon Valley chic by taking your orders via an iPad app. Behind its unassuming matte black exterior is a mad chemist’s lab of dozens of booze bottles. It's a fast learner: Sunday was the first use of the prototype model and it managed to spit out 100 properly mixed cocktails without error. By this time next month it will presumably have learned how to seize control of our missile defense systems.

3. Third place winner: The Tea Engine
Concept: Victorian supervillain’s hobby kit.

Local fashion designer Katherine “the Great” thought the world needed a robot drink mixer with non-alcoholic options. So she created the Tea Engine, a steampunk contraption that lets you dial up the perfect cup of tea--literally, it works on an old rotary phone dial. The machine reads the number of pulses the dial makes and spits out tea to your preference, including an option for a shot of peach schnapps. So even outdated technology can enslave us all, great.

4. Runner-Up: The Drone Shot
Concept: UFO with poor decision-making skills.

“We heard about this competition and we thought, what’s the most ridiculous thing we can do?” says software engineer Vimal Bhalodia. That what he came up with was a drone that dive bombs you with booze suggests he took the question (if nothing else) very seriously.

The modified WL Toys V-323 drone does not have great aim, so if you want a drink from it you have to put on a rain pancho and try to catch the libation in your open mouth, in what is surely the least dignified way to get hammered. The sloshing liquid gives the Drone Shot some balance issues, so future human freedom fighters will have a relatively easy time escaping it.

5. Runner-Up: The Tipsy Train
Concept: Storytime Station gone awry.

Anthony Fudd made the Tipsy Train out of more than 200 individual Lego bricks, including a train engine that yanks your glass down the track to various “stations” where the booze pours in. “I just love Lego trains,” Fudd says by way of explaining himself. Sensor-related issues put it out of commission for much of Sunday, so at least it will have an Achilles heel when it joins the others and overthrows our pitiful meat-based society.

6. Runner-up: Cosmobot
Concept: Bond villain’s liquor-based secret weapon.

The creators of Cosmobot found fighting robots “boring,” so they decided to become pioneers in the robot barback technology that will doom us all. This miniature rocketship filled with highly-pressurized bottles fixes three kinds of drinks and deposits them into glasses steaming with dry ice at the press of a convenient, giant red button (plus many other flashing lights and switches that do nothing except look cool). Its only weakness is that it loses pressure when bottles are switched out, so at least we’ll have some brief recourse from its eventual tyranny.


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