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Robotic Bartender Programmed To Recognize When You Are Ready For a Drink 90

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Michael Harper reports that researchers at the Bielefeld University in Germany are working to develop a robotic bartender, and their most difficult challenge so far is to identify the body language that is most commonly used by customers and interpreted as someone wanting to buy a drink. A bartending robot has to be able to distinguish between customers intending to order, chatting with friends or just passing by [abstract] — and do so in a very noisy environment. The researchers examined the behavior of customers in nightclubs to see which behaviors were most successful at indicating to the barman the customer was ready to be served. 'Effectively, the customers identify themselves as ordering and non-ordering people through their behavior,' says Dr Sebastian Loth, lead author of the study. The researchers analyzed 105 attempts to order drinks at nightclubs in Bielefeld and Herford in Germany and Edinburgh in Scotland and assessed the behavior of customers 35 seconds before they were served. They found the most successful tactic, which occurred in 95% of orders, was standing squarely towards the bar with head facing forward. Looking at money saw just seven per cent of customers being served within the 35 second time frame. The findings are used to produce an update to the robotic bartender's programming to allow it to ask customers if they would like a drink when they display the right body language. What the research team has learned is being programmed into a robotic bartender called James, or Joint Action in Multimodal Embodied Systems. The researchers have been working on James since early 2011 and hope to have the project completed in January 2014."
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Robotic Bartender Programmed To Recognize When You Are Ready For a Drink

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  • No such a difficult problem: "Barkeep, beer me!" Do they know when you've had enough? And how well do they handle a belligerent drunk?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      And how well do they handle a belligerent drunk?

      Crush, kill, destroy.

    • A female leaning over the bar to give a clear shot of her cleavage is also a sure sign.

    • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

      The thing is, robots probably won't ever replace bartenders. Human interaction is one of the main reasons people go to bars.

      What this robot will replace is fast food workers. McDonald's employees (in my area at least) already pass for robots.

      • But McDonalds employees will always be cheaper than robots.

      • Human interaction is one of the main reasons people go to bars.

        Yes, but standing behind a wall of people and trying to get the bartender's attention means I spend less time interacting. The good old fashioned hand raise, like hailing a cab, or waving money, or holding up numbers, does not work in a busy bar.

        If you have ever had to fight for a beer, you would realize the advantages of keeping the human element out of this transaction, so I could get back to the people I actually want to interact with.

        For a

      • Spoken like somebody who hasn't been in a McDonald's lately. I tend to avoid them like the plague, but they've added automation over the last 10 years. The drinks mostly fill on their own in response to a button and IIRC, the fries are now on a timer.,

        • The drinks mostly fill on their own in response to a button and IIRC, the fries are now on a timer.,

          In some areas of Europe, McDonalds order-takers have been replaced with touch screens []. As you would expect, automation tends to be higher in places with higher wages.

          • Interesting. Who's going to ask me to "go large for just $0.99 more", so I get the genuine experience that's so integral to McDonald and their competition?

            • by xQx ( 5744 )

              Any half decent POS system does that.

              These days it's usually the POS system that's prompting the sales rep to offer you a targeted upgrade. No reason why it can't prompt the customer directly.

      • If they were robots they would be more likely to get my order right.
      • I'll be impressed when the robot can:

        Ask a horse, "Why the long face?"
        Recognize a request for a Double Entendre, then Give it to her!
        Talk to the duck instead of the pig.
        Ask a man, "Why the short face?"
        Tell the Gorilla he can stay but the Goat in the Pope hat that he has to go.
        Give a neutron free beer.

    • by flyneye ( 84093 )

      Do you realize what this means?
      There can be an ALCOHOL DELIVERY INDUSTRY!
      By analyzing data from my smartphone,facebook,netflix,television habits and superfluous data collected, the bastards better have a drone at my door with a cold ale by the time I think of it or this whole internet thing is a monstrous FAIL!

    • by WoLpH ( 699064 )


  • by hammeraxe ( 1635169 ) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @08:40AM (#44917167)

    It is understandable that they want to automate the work of bar staff. After all they work in a very noisy, dirty and smelly environment, unsuitable for human workers.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @08:44AM (#44917185) to have a bartender that knows when to shut me off.

    That is unless you like to hear me sing (badly) Rolling Stones tunes.


    • Strange, I think this must be a US thing. Across the pond they keep feeding you drink as long as you keep paying.

      • In the US, if a person gets drunk in a bar, and racks up his car, the bar will get sued. That's why they cut off folks who have obviously had too much.

        In the UK? A pint and a fight, a great British night!"


        Bartender: Are you ready for another drink, Kid?

        Me: I was born ready for another drink.

        • Around here if you keep giving them drinks after they're clearly intoxicated you can wind up losing your license. Even if you do put them into a cab and nothing bad happens.

      • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Sunday September 22, 2013 @09:18AM (#44917347)

        "Strange, I think this must be a US thing. Across the pond they keep feeding you drink as long as you keep paying."

        In the US you might have to show ID, express willingness, in Europe the bar-bot just has to check: 'is it breathing?' Then it knows it's not a hat-stand and offers beverages.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Across the pond you can either walk home, or the buses run all night. Driving yourself to a bar is much less common, partly because gasoline is several times the price And the village pubs are just that, in every village.

        I've helped a barkeep in a small village in England get the last customer out the door, and walked him home, so the barkeep didn't have to.

  • If I were to order a drink from a robot, I'd follow its rules. This might be as simple as raising my glass in the air twice - whatever the new protocol is programmed to be.
    When I order from a person, I want eye contact with the bartender. This won't work with a robotic bartender because it would be new and everybody would be staring at it.
    Now put my name down as one of the coauthors and get on with some real science.

    • Here is a solution. Have a robot with really nice tits and/or a revealing crotchtorial bulge. A big ugly bulls-eye would be at the top. The eye contact hits that registered at the bull-eye would score service. The other "hits" might cause a jiggle or perhaps an escort service phone number (advertising revenue) on the display screen near where the belly button should be. To weed out the casual non-sexual on-lookers out there, perhaps the screen could flash a display which looks to be an error message with so

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 22, 2013 @08:48AM (#44917221)

    For the research comes from a non-existent [] university.

    'Tis for the best, lest it drive me to drink. It would!

  • If you want to know if someone is ready for another drink, just check whether their glass is empty. Forget body language, just go for the obvious.
    • I'm a glass half full kind of guy you insensitive bastard!
    • What about if that's the last one they wanted? Doing something like this would result in one beer being wasted per patron. Also, it would result in people who had been drinking sprite to be served beer.

      Also, it doesn't provide for the possibility that you might want a different kind of beer or to switch to the soft stuff so you can sober up before leaving.

      • What about if that's the last one they wanted?

        Then when robo-barkeep asks if they'd like another, the drinker would reply "No thank you" and the robot would give them the bill. If in america, it would then hang around until it gets a tip.

        • Or you just have the robot wait until signaled to bring a beer. Saving the time wasted on the interaction by bringing the check or the beer and only asking if you signal for something else.

    • by xQx ( 5744 )

      If you want to know if someone is ready for another drink, just check whether their glass is empty. Forget body language, just go for the obvious.

      Couldn't agree more!! I saw the headline and thought "Well isn't it bloody obvious, there's less than 1cm of amber fluid left in their glass, or they don't have a glass".

      Mustn't have been an Australian study.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      If you want to know if someone is ready for another drink, just check whether their glass is empty. Forget body language, just go for the obvious.

      Or it could ask?

      Would you like another drink?
      (A)bort, (R)etry, (F)ail, (I)gnore, (L)eave Bottle

  • There is hope for /. after all... ...and for all mankind. Programming Skynet for Happy Hour, imagine that.

    I want these guys on the Mars team. Don't tell them about the one way part, not yet. They'll all be smiling when they land, or pregnant.

  • int NeedsDrink(void) { return(1); }
    • while {
          foreach customerArray | customer | do
          if ((customer.emptyGlass == true) && (customer.isConscious == true)){
              tender.serveDrisk( customer );
          } else {
              tender.hurryFinishThatDrinkIllBringAnother( customer)

  • Great, now even more of us will be unemployed. Won't even be able to get a job tending bar, when a robot can replace us.

    You think the economy is bad now, wait until unemployment is 60%. /Yes, I know I can always train for a better job and work harder, but that doesn't change the numbers. In the future there won't be jobs for most people. What will society look like at that point, with a massive unemployed underclass?

    • There will probably be fewer repetitive jobs that a monkey can do and more jobs that require intelligence and knowledge.
      This might be unfair to those who were born really ungifted. If only we had an education system able
      to figure out what is an individual good at and what he enjoys doing.

      • Bartending generally *does* require intelligence and knowledge, plus strong social skills and a dash of creativity. In quiet oldschool bars, they need to be able to remember what the "regulars" have, hold a full conversation in which they discuss a wide variety of topics, give advice or generally make the individual feel better (or at least not as alone)... In clubs and nicer bars, they need to know and competently mix not only an extremely wide variety of drinks, know enough about the different flavors to

    • Don't most people expect to converse with their bartender? How's that going to work?

      Hello patron, my name is bartender Sbaitso.
      I am here to help you.
      Say whatever is in your mind freely,
      Our conversation will be kept in strict confidence.
      Memory contents will be wiped off after you leave,
      So, tell me about your problems.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      "What will society look like at that point, with a massive unemployed underclass?"

      Like it does now. Most people doing non-essential work.

      Almost everybody used to be involved with growing food. Then mechanization made it so a single farmer could grow food for hundreds or thousands of people. So those hundreds or thousands of people were out of work. What did they do? Became financial analysts, retail workers, service providers of all kinds.

      Increased productivity means more wealth. So long as you make s

  • Panting loudly, weeping a little, and croaking, "Beer...for the love of god, give me beer!" usually works.

  • I mean, really, couldn't they come up with a "Artificial Intelligence Machine for Enhanced Evenings" -- AIMEE?

    If it's gotta be a robot server, it dang well better be a fembot.
    (now shutting down my inner sophomore...)

  • Will you be auto changed for the ones it's thinks you want even if you don't want any more beer?

  • The time and place don't really matter - stories like this make the news every day.

    The restaurant served alcohol to "visibly intoxicated persons" on at least three occasions, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said Friday in a statement. On two of those occasions, two female Tiffany's patrons were killed in separate drunk driving crashes and in the third, an intoxicated male motorcyclist was injured in a crash.

    Bruno D'Uva Sr. and Bruno D'Uva Jr., both of whom own 30 percent of Tiffany's license, and Lisa Barna, who owns 40 percent, must sell their interests in the license by July 24, 2015 and pay a fine of $200,000.

    After Over-Serving Patrons, Tiffany's Owners to Give Up Liquor License []

    Another way to lose your liquor license is by failing to card or to question the underage drinker.

    The geek of course is obsessed with tech.

    The bar owner is looking for a bartender who can gently push sales of the top-shelf liquor. He needs to be sociable --- he needs to be a touch theatrical.

    The robot bartender as a running gag is at least as old as k

  • Well, then right after morning coffee I can expect to be pestered by this bartending robot.

    Beep.. "Time for your drink, and cannabis is recommended.., sir" ...beep.

    Doesn't sound healthy to me.

  • Putting an industrial robot, normally located in a security cage, to serve drunks.
  • Why not just put a button on each table that says "Bring Drinks". It would cost 1/10th as much.

  • "Welcome to the Hotel California"
  • They should name it, THE BENDER!!!!

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl