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R2D2 Beer Getting Machine 204

defectorg writes "R2-D2 Interactive Astromech Droid is coming to us this summer. Equipped with innovative speech recognition technology, infrared scanning technology and working sonar navigation, this R2-D2 recognizes 40 spoken phrases, plays six exciting games, and sings three tunes. It even has a retractable arm that lets it hold a 12-ounce beverage! Now this would be a nice thing to hack wireless lan iinto, let it notify new mail, read news and most important, ~/bin/"
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R2D2 Beer Getting Machine

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  • beer (Score:1, Interesting)

    mmm... beer what about a coffee dispensor?
  • I KNEW R2 was always meant to serve drinks...
  • for the special edition version coming in the winter.
    • Maybe it will be the version that doesn't require 4 D batteries and 4 AA batteries.

      Honestly, I would have paid the extra two or three bucks for a rechargable model. Ah, well. We're getting closer, at least!

  • fortune++;
  • cool (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    combine C3PO and R2D2 together and you got yourself a wife.. beer getting robot + bitchy robot = wife :-)
  • by magicsquid ( 85985 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @12:30AM (#3969929) Homepage
    I want a R2D2 that has a "Bring me Natalie Portman" option.
  • First thing to mind was to get this thing to slap my face when I fall asleep at the computer, working on another endless project. That would be nice, so I don't wake up with my head on the keyboard having typed 30,000 lines of code, tossing and turning in my sleep. That isn't fun at all.
  • by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @12:35AM (#3969943) Journal
    If only it was a little bigger, maybe 2 or 3 feet tall... then it would have enough room to stick the base of an iMac in his head with a nice 17" flat-panel screen sticking out the top, nice GUI, BSD under the hood, 802.11 built in...

    Ahhh, someday I will build my own droid. Then...uhh... phase 3: Profit!
  • But this one does. Not cool.
    • It only makes the bleeps, go to _id=1819726 and watch the video, its pretty neato.
    • Sure he did.

      beep beep BEEP bebeep BEbebeBEEP
      No, he didn't mean to insult you.
      R2! You don't have to vaporize him just to make a point.
      BEbebeBEEP bebeep BEEP
      Fine! Fine, you two work it out on your own. I'm outta here.

    • R2-D2 did not talk

      I often found it odd that he didn't talk since he could play sounds in recordings just fine. He must have had some DSP capabilities or something. More importantly, he had the understanding of languages of all sorts. I think he just chose to beep instead. -N
      • I often found it odd that he didn't talk since he could play sounds in recordings just fine. He must have had some DSP capabilities or something. More importantly, he had the understanding of languages of all sorts. I think he just chose to beep instead.

        A cassette player can play sounds, but can't talk. A mute can hear and understand languages without being able to talk. If you think about it, it makes a great deal of sense to build a robot that can recognize speech, but there's not much point in it talking back if its only responses will be things like "acknowledged" and "done". A few simple beep codes are much more efficient.
      • It's possible that R2's "speech" had no literal correspondence with a human language. It might be too abstract/robotic. Maybe that's a major role of a "protocol droid" (c3po) - not just to translate, say between italian and english but to translate low-level geekspeak into something humans would care about.
        So if R2 could talk English, he might say things like (execution-path-blocked (holoplay (tail 84% current-file)) (accessory-hardware restraining-bolt)). Which would be as useful to Luke as a bunch of bleeps and whistles.
  • About time! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Restil ( 31903 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @12:35AM (#3969945) Homepage
    "With its rich heritage, an incredible fantasy, and gripping story lines, Star Wars is the ultimate property on which to base a toy line," said Brian Goldner, President of Hasbro's U.S. toys group.

    Its a good thing that someone's staying on top of these news breaking events! There's rumors that action figures might be popular too. Better look into it! :)

  • by cliffy2000 ( 185461 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @12:36AM (#3969948) Journal
    How can they offer high-caliber infrared and sonar capabilities at this price? I'd imagine that the licensing (for the Star Wars name, likeness, etc.) is accounting for a good 33% of costs... do, basically, 60 dollars for efficent and "sophisticated" abilities? Either they're losing money or misrepresenting the abilities of Mr. D2.
    • by Wumpus ( 9548 ) <> on Monday July 29, 2002 @12:39AM (#3969958)
      They sell them at a loss, but make up for it in volume.
      • They sell them at a loss, but make up for it in volume.

        Umm, if each one is sold at a loss, how is selling more supposed to make money?
        • They kae their money in marginal costs (how much $$ does it take to make one more?) If the marginal cost is small enough you eventually start making money, if you sell enough,
          • I could be wrong but I took the parent of this as a joke concerning the postings of late regarding the video game console industry. In these posts the console manufacturers sell their consoles "at a loss". I could be wrong but I chuckled when I read it thinking of the lameness of "selling at a loss".
            • Also possible is a refrence to a saturday night live sketch. The premice was a bank whose sole function was making change for people, at no cost. When asked how they could make money doing that, the answer was..volume.
              • I suppose thats what i get for not watching SNL :-P Ah well. At least i got mod points! W00t! Karma whores unite!
              • Actually, there's those machines at the grocery store that turn your change into "real money".

                I guess they take a 1% cut or something... hell, they could probably just round to the floor in dollars, then keep the, uh, change.
              • Another explanation could be a sketch from the old "I Love Lucy" show in which Lucy and Ethel were selling mayonaisse at 40 cents per quart. When Ricky discovered their scheme he added up the costs and figured that each quart cost them 80 cents to make.

                Lucy's response was: "Well we'll make up for it in volume!"

                Of course that could have been satirizing some issue that was current at the time of the show. *shrug*
        • It's an Old joke.
        • They sell them at a loss, but make up for it in volume.
          Umm, if each one is sold at a loss, how is selling more supposed to make money?

          It's a proven business model:
          1. Sell expensive toy for less than cost.
          2. Make profit.
          Alternatively, they sell hundreds of thousands of these, each at a loss, loudly procliam that they will change the way the world plays with toys. Create lots of hype, get on the cover of a few magazines...

          Then spin it off in an IPO, and voila, you have your profit. A little creative accounting, a restructuring or two, and lastly, a bankruptcy filing to protect you from your debtors, and you get to keep the Ferrari and the house in Malibu.

          Happens all the time.
        • Just think of how may dot-coms would have been saved if someone had just asked this one question.
    • Uhmm, infared equipment is cheaper than normal video and easier to parse out for some applications as I recall... Hell, in Robot Builders Bonanza they explain how to build a relatively sophisticated system for maybe 40, and that's paying top dollar for major parts. Surely they can replicate this behavior in mass production for pennies on the dollar.
    • 60 dollars for efficent and "sophisticated" abilities?

      That seems reasonable enough. Remember, this isn't new technology. It was developed A Long Time Ago...
  • I can see how they invented this one. It all started at a company party, where a bunch of Star Wars fans watched on, plastered, and decided that instead of themselves getting up to the cooler, they needed 'that goddamn robot over there' to get it.

    Of course, we must remember that the guys that built the trebuchet big enough to hurl the Buick 200 yards also came up with their brilliant idea while hammered too.

    What alcohol can do.
  • by crystalplague ( 547876 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @12:37AM (#3969954)
    to find a way to write 20,000 lines of code to preform a task as simple as walking to the fridge...
    • Jesus CHRIST! Does nobody FUCKING GET IT!?!?

      You only have to write the code ONCE!

      After writing the code, the fucking R2D2 gets the goddamn BEER as long as it can ROLL on it's stupid WHEELS! After being a genius for a few hours you get to loll on your ASS playing video games and WHACKING off to petrified, GRITTY Natalie Portman pr0n for as long as you want.

      It's potentially WORTH the EFFORT!
    • I wrote THAT much code in assembler, for friken corewars, it didn't win once and it can't
      fetch me a beer.

  • I'm glad to that we all have our prioities straight.

    Not that it doesn't address a wide variety of technical issues.

    and technology should be fun

  • It even has a retractable arm that lets it hold a 12-ounce beverage!
    Great, now if only it was more than 15 inches tall.
  • kenny baker (Score:5, Funny)

    by fmita ( 517041 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @12:42AM (#3969973) Homepage Journal
    Do I get a real Kenny Baker, too????!!!??
    • You know, I'm really sick of people not reading the article before posting. If you had you would have seen that this R2D2 is only 15 inches high, so instead of Kenny Baker, you'll get <DrEvil>Mini Kenny Baker</DrEvil>.

  • Big deal (Score:4, Funny)

    by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @12:43AM (#3969976) Journal
    I want to know when they're releasing the beer-fetching Princess Leia.
  • can you meta moderate for me today?

    Bleep bleep.
  • When will it be available on Thinkgeek? :)

    Seriously, I used to hang out on [] -- they must be going ape over there now, although oddly I see no mention of this in that group on google. JRChat [] too.
    (Creatures Labs is the maker of the "Creatures" series of video games.)

    OT: I think that newsgroup has the longest single consecutive running internet discussion ever: "[JNCOBOY] EVERYONE READ!!!! " Google lists almost 5000 posts archived, and it's been going since sometime in the mid-90's, IIRC. I guess that's the stability of USENET for you.

    • I don't think the members of A.G.C actually look at our sites anymore! :) They're in a world of their own. I'm glad to see R2 made it to Slashdot. Only wish we'd had as much attention for Docking Station! Cheers, Frimlin (aka Ash Harman, Webmaster of Creature Labs)
  • At 15" tall it is not tall enough to get into my fridge and get me my beer, nor to hand it to me when I am sitting comfortably on the couch.
  • Man, please tell me that American television commercials are not as bad as this ct _id=1819726

    it reminds me of a "commercial" in a South Park episode a couple seasons back.

    Bad TV aside though, it kinds looks very cheesy as a toy itself. It needs to be scaled up for the adults in the audience, to have more "intelligence", can the "dance program", and R2's cool hologram projector wouldn't be bad either please :-)
  • Hehe, I'm waiting for C3P0 to come out, so I can introduce him to my 33oz 29" Aluminum stress reliever*. I'm sure he'll like it.

    Most. Annoying. Droid. Ever.

    *also known as a bat. Comes in a variety of sizes and shapes, even made of wood! Bonus!
    • Intro to Wit 101:

      Including a corny explanation of the punchline severly defeats the impact that your delivery may possibly have had. If people don't get it, they dont get it. Explaning what a bat is won't make it funnier ... which apparently was the reaction you were hoping for.
      • Intro to Sarcasm 101:

        Get a grip. It's slashdot. Some people are not from America. They may not get it. Glad you did. Glad you also felt the need to explain your thoughts on my post. What a neat idea, being able to respond to posts.

        As far as the concept of what's funny or not, it's a damned shame you didn't find it funny.

        That, my friend, is sarcasm.
    • Futhermore, said aluminum bat is likely 33 inches, 29 ounces. This excellent weight to size ratio maximizes the bat's ability to propel baseballs at unsafe velocities, typically reducing teenaged pitchers to vegetables.

      If I'm wrong about your bat, congratulations! You are in possession of a rare bat. Perhaps you meant to post on Ebay?

      • the rubber coating on the handle has a slight tear in it. (Old bat) Started out at 29oz but is no longer...assumptions have been made though.

        On a side note, completely unrelated, since we are way off topic anyhow, I understand that soon college baseball will be making a move to wooden bats again. We'll see.
  • IIRC Nolan Bushnell was developing a similar robot in the early 80's. And at the time it's ONLY selling point was the ability to fetch beer.
  • by Anonymous Coward
  • by ciurana ( 2603 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @01:35AM (#3970103) Homepage Journal

    This sounds to me like too little, too late.

    Robots like this one (and much more sophisticated) have been sold in Japan since at least 1985. I bought a semi-autonomous robot back in 1987 dubbed Kikuzo that recognized 8 spoken phrases, was configurable to recognize its owners voice, played games, and was able to pick-up and release small objects. Very cool. The robot cost me about $100.00 at the Beverly Centre in Beverly Hills, at a store that specialized in Japanese gadgets.

    Kikuzo is fully programmable and it acts/reacts to voice commands. Its cordless "microphone" used a 9 V battery, and the 25 cm. tall robot itself runs on four 1.5 V C batteries. It features:

    • Move forward
    • Move back
    • Pick up
    • Put down
    • Rotate left
    • Rotate right
    • "Smile" (flash all lights in a friendly way)

    Check out this guy's page for infos: kuzo.html [] -- the page is in Japanese, but it has lots of pretty pictures.

    While this is sort of cool, I would expect this R2-D2 to be a quantum leap over my trusty Kikuzo. We even "dissected" Kikuzo for one of my computer engineering classes (logical design) in the university (and later put him back together). We defined a cordless interface so you could program and command him from a PC (MS-DOS -- this was back in late 1988).

    Granted, R2-D2 has a richer vocabulary than Kikuzo, but both respond to voice commands and play games, etc. I don't see myself spending money on such a limited R2-D2 since my Kikuzo would probably kick its arse. Offer me something as sophisticated as Aibo and then we'll talk. Meanwhile, Kikuzo even has collector's value.


  • ... it'll end up in the closet once I get a gf. Unless she's one of those feminist types that thinks I should get beer on me own. Oh well, none of us can really be that picky.
  • I would rather have a bender robot with a small refrigerator inside that hatch he has. That should keep the beer cool and nice during the day.

    Then again, R2D2's bleeps are probably nicer to listen to than Bender's neverending sarcastic comments. And he'd probably drink all the bear himself.
  • A Beowolfe cluster of these little guys can bring me a case of Guinness?
  • Do you remember the Omnibot and Omnibot 2000? I see this thing going the way of them. Though early on, I see them selling well. Heck, with a sub $100 price tag, you can't go wrong. But I am sure the novelty will wear off soon enough.

  • to programme ALL your remote controls into its Infrared system and then voice activate everything! (TV, VCR, DVD, PS2, AC... ).

    The next thing to do is hard wire an IR reciever in to the wife's brain so she'd finally do as she's told! Then she can get the beer... :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The R2-D2 Interactive Astromech Droid is ... 15-inch-plus ... packed with spunk .... answers to your call and obeys your commands.

    mmm, packed with spunk, and obeys your command. take note ladies!!

  • Remember the Sail Barge? Jabba had it right! R2's only meant to serve drinks!

    "R2! Get me a beer! What?!?! Coors?!? You know I only drink Guiness!"

    Of course, I'd need him to come with a built in Ewok-shocker too. Those damn things are always getting into the beer. You have got to have defenses against drunk ewoks. It's not a pretty picture.
  • Required background reading for this /. story: the late, great Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore []'s Gallegher [] series of stories. (You may remember the authors from such sci-fi classics as The Twonky or All Mimsy Were The Borogoves.)

    Although I'm afraid I've given a punchline away just via the pointer here...

  • R2-D2 can follow a series of commands

    I have never seen R2-D2 going up or down stairs in the Star War movies, but he does go from one level to the next. If R2-D2 can follow a series of commands, can I tell him to go upstairs and get me a mountain dew?
    • "I have never seen R2-D2 going up or down stairs in the Star War movies"

      He does in Episode 2, as Anakin and Amidala are arriving on Naboo.

      Of course, this is also the episode that gives R2 jump-jets...

  • I want my R2 totally equipped with the side boosters and the ability to fire a light saber across the Sarlaac pit monster. Until then, I'll get my own damn beer.
  • Sure, a droid is just fine and dandy, but I want my X-wing, and I want it now.
  • by jsse ( 254124 )
    One thing we love R2D2 is that it has one thing unfound in any real/imaginative robots


    It'd be cool if this little thingy has this characteristic: like throw the beer on his master's face on bad day, or give his master a push when he's near the windows....etc.
  • Will it dissapoint?? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zytheran ( 100908 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @03:25AM (#3970289)
    Probably.As someone who has been involved with a company developing a new toy and attempting to work with Hasbro (and their only competition)on something "new", it will be interesting to see how good this is. From our experience Hasbro's marketing direction will be to totally minimise useful technical features and max up on promoting a particular line, be it StarWars, Lincoln Logs or some other highly marketable theme. What they wanted at the end of the day was a poor cousin of what was proposed. They simply didn't want a toy with smarts (good luck Creature Labs, been there, done that) or one that was radical with features link wireless links, unique and evolving personality or enough RAM (let alone FLASH RAM) to do somehting useful with. Just look how far Furby has evolved since it's big hit, or those other crappy "Techno" clones. New development and improvement has decreasing returns and is hard work, especially once the novelty wears off and there's competition from the next movie/cartoon series.
    And BTW, the raw material cost, including plstic body, motors etc, is about 10% of final on-shelf cost. It's amazing how cheap some of these bits of electronics are in volume.And don't forget the sweat shops they are assembled in.
  • I was fortunate enough to visit creaturelabs in cambridge, to see this item being developed in late 2000, on a visit discuss new and exciting things. The robot we saw was very crude, but was certainly begining to take shape. I don't recall what cpu it used but the ammount of RAM it ws using was incredibly small for such a sophisticated unit. I had almost forgotten about this unit, however, looking at the pricetag, I don't think I'll have to wait much longer :)
  • by tetro ( 545711 )
    now if somebody could build a fufme, i'd have the complete package
  • Cool, so this is what Creature Labs is up to. I've been meaning to check up on the company ever since I read Steve Grand's book [], and now I know what he's up to. For those who don't know, Grand is an AI researcher who wrote large chunks of the game Creatures [], which is an AI game where you raise these animals, Tomogatchi-style, and they interact with their world.

    He left to work at Creature Labs, and I guess R2 is one of their big things. With his experience, I'd imagine that R2 has very well done AI, and might even show some hint of a personality beyond simple beer-fetcher, which befits the "real" R2 that we all know and love.
  • "Preorder this item today, and it will ship to arrive on or just after the release date of 8/26/2002."

    but, I want mine now....R2 bring me the beer...R2!! R2...where the hell is that robot...oh no, thats right I have to wait for it...grrr...

    but its a start, for every star wars fan out there! its definately a must if they could make it large enough to have a cooler inside instead of going back and forth between the fridge and my computer desk I'd get my drinks faster!
  • this R2-D2 recognizes 40 spoken phrases

    I want them to make a C3P0 model. With it understanding 6 million forms of communication, it's only a matter of time for 3P0 to decipher all those SlashCode Perl modules I've been trying to understand.

    Then 3p0 tells me that the modules are really written in Brainf*ck. That's okay. 3p0 can decipher that for me too.

    But for now, I'll pay to have r2d2 use its electric circuits to shock random people who come to my doorstep. That'll teach'em a lesson for making fun of my Star Wars lunchbox!

  • This could be a case of life imitating art. Somehow I get the feeling that this little R2 lookalike will be the launch pad for actual R2 type droids. If there is sufficient robotics research into this, they may turn something like this 'can with wheels' into something that can serve drinks, take food orders, etc.

    It always seems that progress is found in the most unusual places: Porn Industry -> DVD.

    Maybe the toy industry will yeild a whole slew of useful robots in the next 10 years or so.
  • Wouldn't you be better off with one of these []?


  • If they can retrofit a flat head and a mouth with lips, I'll be the first in line to buy it.
  • You know that commercial where the guy has the hawk that gets him beer? He tells it to get him a beer, and he doesn't know where the beer comes from. Meanwhile the hawk is terrorizing downtown restaurants getting the beer... I can see the comedic potential in the same thing happening here:

    Robot comes back, a little dusty, one of the wheels is squeaking, holding a frosty cold one. Pan to the outside world, there's a robot-sized hole in a Semi, cars turned upside down, police cruisers arriving on scene, and a minority guy standing outside of a liquor store with smoke pouring out of the broken front door.
    Moral: beer is worth any price.
  • I was in fifth grade in 1984. The oil boom was still going here in Texas at the time and there were a lot of families in my neighborhood with ungodly amounts of money. Anyway, this kid down the street had a robot unlike anything I've ever seen. It was about 3 or 4' tall and had a b&w screen (looked similar to a TRS-80 Model ]I[, if you know what I'm talking about) for a face. Under the screen, it had several rows of buttons and stuff, and a little 12-button keypad, kind of like a phone. Below all this was, of all crazy things, an Atari 2600. Besides doing normal "robotty" things, this robot could play a few select 2600 games and would generally beat you. As I recall, this robot had an arm on the side that had little pincers that could pick up some things. It could also carry a little drink tray. It had some sensors that enabled it to move around objects and you could program it to move around the room at preset times. If I recall correctly, this kid had the robot set to wake him up every morning.

    I've always been curious about this robot. Does anyone know the name of it?

  • That is the droid I'm looking for!

  • <grammar flame>The first time I read the headline, I thought that George Lucas had launched an R2D2 brand of beer... Like they would be selling beer in little Artoo-shaped cans at the grocery store. And I wondered what kind of machine this "R2D2 Beer" would be getting.

    It's amazing, the difference one missing hyphen can make.</grammar flame>

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan