It's a foregone conclusion that all drinks in the future will be served by robots. The question is, will this be done for the good of humanity, or will these androids have their own sinister agenda?
Luckily, BarBot 2010
, which Asylum attended Feb. 18 at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, hinted that it just might be the former.
For the evening, as a way to promote the upcoming city-wide RoboGames
, bipedal hominid bartenders were replaced by mechanized versions that came in many shapes, sizes and designs. And all around us, we witnessed robots and humans working together for a common purpose: to help attendees get drunk.
Read on to see what happened and to get a glimpse of what bars will look like in the future.
Inspired by the awesome Vienna-based festival Roboexotica
(aka Festival fur Cocktail-Robtik), BarBot was brought to our shores three years ago by David Calkin as a prelude to his expo, RoboGames
But instead of robots battling it out to the death, their purpose is to pour the perfect cocktail for tech maestros, programmers, cyberpunks and those who just plain love booze.
After all the cocktails are consumed, who will be left standing: man or machine?
Upon arrival, we are greeted by our gracious robot host, Chassis. All we can say is, "Chassis, take me to your blender!"
Is Chassis a friendly robot, or evil like the T-1000
Apparently Chassis is a friendly robot, as it proceeds to dry-hump a humanoid in a crude display of man-robot love.
Clad in a tuxedo and top hat, Bartendo attempts to serve us the perfect Blue Black Russian and Yellow Long Island Ice Tea.
"Does the mustache and top hat help its functionality?" we ask Bartendo's mad creator.
"It helps ... by making it look more awesome," he says. "He can't make drinks without that hat."
As strains of of Kraftwerk play from a mechanized xylophone on stage, humans delight in the marvel that is Bartendo. Here, a woman waits for the mechanized amigo to produce an intoxicating elixir from its chamber that will presumably render her, as we humans say, pie-eyed.
"Do you think robots make better bartenders than humans?" we ask our thirsty new friend.
"You can't manipulate them with your eyelashes," she says.
"Hey, babe -- have you ever dated a robot?" quips snarky talking robot Capek
, who encourages inter-species coitus. Apparently Capek wants to get his valves lubed.
Asylum's own Harmon Leon makes a new friend with Capek. His mechanical arm swiveled to fill our cup with the perfect blend of vodka and what we hope wasn't motor oil.
While Capek demonstrated the arty, amorphic-style robot, others were built (by man) for pure precision (to serve man).
For example, iLush is all robotic drinking-pouring precision as it sucks vodka through a syringe and dispenses the cold hooch through a coil. A perfect drink every time.
With its sleek touch-screen design, iLush lets you choose your drink type, its size, and whether or not you want it sweet or dry.
Sure, iLush is great, but still we were expecting at least one robot to be human-size like R2D2 or that child from Small Wonder
Still, the quick-pouring machines, like the scary-named Corpse Reviver, left humans happy. Like a crazed Frankenstein experiment, the thirsty pull a lever to activate this medieval alchemy experiment. Voilá -- the superlative kamikaze!
Shotbot, on the other hand, is made almost entirely of LEGOs. Basically, a Dixie cup drops down a conveyor belt and is filled with an intoxicant. Though LEGOs are the main component in this contraption, there have been some problems.
"Just a half-hour ago, I got it working," confesses its bespectacled creator, noting the problems that some have with their robotic drink-serving contraptions. "I had some software issues. You're always fiddling with it up until the last moment."
Hmm? Is the man running the robot, or is the robot running the man?
In a pure test of man versus machine, Barnold PS makes a patron work for his drink. This Austrian-designed robotic drink dispenser requires a person to first arm-wrestle its metal arm.
If he happens to pin his mechanical foe's appendage ...
... then a shot of whiskey pours and then flung down the length of the bar, Wild West–style.
Danger, danger, Will Robinson! The Cosmobot 2.0 is ready for blast off.
After a member of the three-man Cosmobot 2.0 crew, clad in NASA jumpsuits, makes some adjustments to the dry-ice functions that is causing drinks to turn into slushies, it is time for ...
As our evening at Barbot 2010 comes to a close, Asylum stops to ponder: Will machine replace man someday? Or, like every sci-fi movie ever, will there one day be a robot uprising when androids become tired of being the servants of humans?
Will Chassis one day become our enslaver instead of the enslaved? Will Bartendo and Shotbot soon turn on their creators?
On our way out, we ask the evening's lone human bartender, "Are you threatened that one day robots will take your job?" He has been rendered to the menial task of giving out drink tokens for the night.
"If I felt threatened, I wouldn't be here tonight," he says. The simple human adds, "Let them give them my job!"
We ponder his brave words. Suddenly, we're interrupted by loud mechanical clanking. Chassis, what are you doing?