Hackit: Cocktail Robotics

Here is a special edition Hackit in honor of Roboexotica. Ever since making the decision to attend Roboexotica we’ve been speculating on the type of machines we’d like to see at such an event. Here are a handful of ideas:

Iceware via rapid prototyping: As we type this post, [Bre] is in the background attempting to build a RepRap style rapid prototyping machine that will construct shot glasses on demand. We were thinking it would be neat to cut beverage glasses out of blocks of ice using a milling machine, but why stick with normal milling equipment? It’s ice right; you could be doing something stupid like using a butane torch for your working tool. We then began to wonder “Has anyone built an ice based rapid prototyping machine?” You could just deposit water on a frozen surface to create your glassware. A group at the University of Missouri has been investigating “rapid freeze prototyping“. Since they’re using water, they only have to create the frozen shell of the part and then fill in the empty cavity with water to create a solid.

Industrial flare bot: Use two large industrial arms to perform cocktail flare moves. This is a similar idea to the juke_bots, industrial DJ bots. The goal would be to put on a good performance while attempting to appear less robotic than Tom Cruise; shouldn’t be too hard.

The separator: There are a few cocktails out there that are carefully poured so that they appear layered when served. We’d love to see a bot that clumsily mixes all of the ingredients together and then runs it through a centrifuge to create the desired product.

Those are three of our ideas. Leave your cocktail robotics ideas in the comments-this whole discussion reminds me of those garbage disposal based margarita machines we saw a couple years ago.

19 thoughts on “Hackit: Cocktail Robotics

  1. ice? so much work for something that’ll melt away within minutes? youd have to make RAPID prototyping a lot more rapid. anyways Roböexotica was great. unfortunately i had to leave before i saw any of the robots perform. gonna check it out again tomorrow.. saw bre and his colleagues work on that prototyping machine..seemed like they couldnt get the heat right. nice work tho.

  2. I think it would be really cool to see a rapid prototyping ice machine. The idea of sitting at a bar and ordering a round of shots for my friends. The machine makes the shots glasses then fills them. That would be awesome. Perhaps using water dispense system, and some sort of coolent to freeze it after you place it. Perhaps liquid nitrogen. I think you could make it fast enough.

  3. Shot glasses will be “tough” to make durable. With little mass, they won’t be able to absorb much heat before melting. And alcohol dramatically lowers the freezing point of water, meaning the icy container will be attacked structurally by its contents at the same time. But I suppose a “shooter” doesn’t have to last too long.

    The idea I would offer for rapid prototyping in ice would be a hot-wire type of machine, similar to wire-EDM, using heat instead of sparks. Not sure how you’d make a concave surface, but it’s just an idea.

  4. anything made out of ice with a cnc-like machine needs to be customized and very small quantity to be worthwhile, because of the ease and speed of simply using a mold to make complex ice shapes in large quantity. or else the machine needs to be able to make so many different types of objects, that it would be infeasible to store a lot of molds and prefrozen objects for immediate use.

    maybe take prefrozen ice shot glasses, and carve a fractally generated unique snowflake on every one?

  5. #5: Any contents hotter than 0C would attack the ‘glass’ from within. Alcohol’s depression of the melting point could be an advantage here- a drink with a significant proportion of alcohol could be served at way below 0C. The ‘glass’ could also be cooled far below 0C so it lasts longer… though I don’t know how far you could go before it sticks to the drinker’s lips.

    I don’t think the centrifugal layering would work, however- this won’t separate miscible liquids, or it would be possible to centrifugally extract the alcohol from beer! Cream wouldn’t centrifuge out, either, as the act of shaking would produce an emulsion.

  6. Actually, Ice doesn’t melt that fast. I once did a project on it and a bar of ice 2″ thick can go from -60ish to 0 C in about 2 minutes, but will then take about an hour to melt down to half it’s thickness in room temperature.

    What you want is ice that has very little air bubbles in it – which act as insulation. Clear ice will have a high heat transfer and will go to 0 C very quickly, while “insulated ice” glasses with a thick bottom will have a cooler center.

    And actially, if you create the glasses on the spot, I don’t think they have to last for more than 5 or so minutes. Maybe someone should contact the ice hotel – they have ice glasses there.

    A cool thing would be a robotized coctail jet: One central location near the bar with a nozzle that can spray coctail – then a camera (or touch-sensitive bar) tracks the location of a glass, and the coctail jet projects a jet of beverage into the glass.

  7. A multi-armed chef that tosses salad ingredients… hopefully getting everything into the bowl.

    The ice idea is cool, though. I’ve seen on this site a “water printer”, combine that idea and make a “glass” picture…

  8. Skill crane style robot arm that travels along the ceiling of the bar. When you raise your glass above your head, the robot detects it, runs over above your glass and automatically pours a drink. The drink poured could be based on an hand held device that you can order on, an rfid or barcode in the glassware itself, or RFID on a membership card and a preprogrammed list of drinks each member can fill out before hand.

    Actually, the third one would probably be required to handle billing. But all in all, it would be a slick way to handle refills.

  9. Regarding the cocktail jet

    I thought about that, but I started wondering how good an idea it would be considering that you need to not only track the glassware, but you need to lead it. Well, ok, maybe it isn’t that big of a risk, but I don’t trust the customer not to move their glas while a stream shoots through the air.

  10. some really nice thoughts – would like to see them realized at future roboexoticas :D

    layered cocktails: a team from silicon valley had planned to attend with their (bio-tech)bot that i ‘ve seen preparing layered micro-cocktails with great precision – but they were tied up in a takeover of their business in november and had to cancel, so i hope we’ll have them next year ..
    (see also http://www.shifz.com/2007/06/awesome-bio-tech-micro-cocktail-making.html)

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