Bottoms up, human.
Waiting to greet patrons inside a newly opened bar on the Las Vegas Strip — across from the Bellagio, in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood — is yet another reminder that robots are coming. For our jobs, our cars and, it seems, our liquor. The latter, thanks to the Tipsy Robot, a new Las Vegas bar that features two bionic mixologists behind the counter, working in unison to mix and pour drinks.
They won’t commiserate with you or listen to your problems. But they’re fast, they don’t get tired or grumpy — and they also dance, which manages to imbue them with a bit of personality in the same way that the Luxo lamp at the beginning of Pixar movies seems to have a personality, through the human-like movement and the emotion it conveys.
Twitter user @dbake522 bemusedly tweeted a few days ago, after visiting the new bar: “Just had a f–n robot make my drink.”
A company called Robotic Innovations is responsible for the idea, and they like the response to the first location so much they’re already thinking about opening more Tipsy Robots in different markets. For the inaugural bar in Las Vegas, Robotic Innovations relied on an Italian tech company called Makr Shakr to make the actual robots after debuting the robot bartenders aboard Royal Caribbean cruises a few years ago.
“What we’re really trying to do here is provide an experience where the user becomes a mixologist themselves,” Makr Shakr project manager Alessandro Incisa told BGR, referring to the iPads that customers use to place their orders. “They use an application with a very simple user interface to control a technology that a few years ago was very far away from them. And in doing so, it’s also fun, of course.”
The bar and its robotic centerpiece have attracted plenty of buzz since the Tipsy Robot opened in recent days — no surprise, given, well, the nature of the thing. Incisa said he notices patrons frequently come inside, sit down and gawk at the robots behind the bar which work in tandem, almost like two giant arms stirring, shaking, pouring.
The owners know it’s the kind of thing that guarantees social media posts and photos. They’re counting on users getting their phones out, in fact, because there’s also a Tipsy Robot app patrons can use to place orders.
Incisa said you can sign in to it with a Facebook profile, which will customize the experience for you. And hopefully turn it into a social experience, with users sharing with their friends the unique drink recipes they’ve ordered.
“I see people sit down at their table and just keep looking at the robot, just getting lost in the moment,” he said. “The way it works is it we ask if you’re underage or not, and we do that at the application level and the venue level with human servers who can check that. Once you get in, when you’re on the tablet, you can order.”
There are 28 point-of-sale stations sprinkled around the bar that customers approach to order.
Robotic Innovations vice president Stephan Mornet said the robot — unnamed and which has been given no gender yet, more on that in a sec — has about 10 programmed dances it can perform right now. The team behind the robot worked with a friend from the New York Ballet to help develop the movements.
“We’re in a marketing process right now to reach out to our client base and have a contest on naming the two robots,” Mornet said. “The great thing about this is it’s one of the newest attractions in Las Vegas. It’s in an open public space, so people can walk over and check it out without buying tickets or scheduling a particular time. We have a green screen photo booth as well that’s been really popular, for after people buy their drinks to kind of show off their robotic experience.”
And who knows — next up could be robot bouncers, the kind dispatched to eject unruly customers who’ve been served one too many by the friendly robot behind the bar.