On a recent camping trip, we took Bartendro out to make drinks for our friends in the fine outdoors. Each bottle had a single tube draped down into its liquid with no bottle topper to keep the bugs out. A small swarm of bees got wind of the sweet scent and in no time, regular sized bees were negotiating themselves down the crowded bottle neck. Unfortunately, the exit seemed to be much more elusive than the entrance, and they found themselves drinking and swimming in what must be the most decadent way for a bee to go. Unfortunately, the camp-goers weren't quite as happy as the bees. After a few hours the bees were bobbing in the sweet stuff. Off-putting, I know, but this was inspiration to refine a component of Bartendro that needed some attention.
Before Bartendro made its debut, the first comments that people made were about the exposure of booze to the open air. We understood the concern. Even with the tubing hanging down into the bottle, there was still plenty of space for fruit flies (even bees) to find their way to the delightful nectar. Commercial environments, especially bars and restaurants take this very seriously and every night the bottles are capped with plastic wrap or some other type of closure. It's a real sanitation concern and we made sure that we would address it before shipping any of our Kickstarter orders.
Our solution was these plastic bottle toppers that could allow the input tube and level sensor tube to pass through the bottle top and not allow any fruit flies in.
While effective, there were a couple of problems with this design. Sometimes, when catering a small get-together or out of sheer laziness, using the liquid sensor tubing wouldn't be desirable. We often run the bot without the second tube because we're usually standing next to the bot and monitoring it anyway, and we don't want to clean a second tube for every bottle at the end of an event. If we were to use the bottle toppers, we would still be left with a gaping hole for pests to get into. The second problem was more of a logistical and manufacturing one. These parts were quite difficult to source, expensive, and slow to modify.
We needed a better way to close up the bottles whether using one or two tubes. After much experimentation, here's what we came up with:
We found that it was nearly impossible to make a one-size-fits-all type of solution. There was simply too large of a range to make an elegant solution. We created a large spreadsheet and measured as many bottle openings as we could get our hands on. The data showed us that there were four distinct groupings of opening sizes so we decided to design for those. This covered everything from a narrow dessert wine to a wide-mouth cranberry juice bottle. There was a limitation in that some bottles could not accept two tubes to begin with, so we did not design for bottles that were that narrow.
The plugs are slit in a similar way as fountain drink covers, but instead of poking a straw through, you poke your tubing through. We tried many variations of slit length, number of slits and distance between both slit patterns before we reached the optimal design. The hole in the center is the biggest opening at 0.010" and about 0.002" when a tube is inserted. The average fruit fly body is about 0.030". The part is made of food-grade silicone, it is soft and flexible, and will allow the passage of the tubes in either direction hundreds of times without tearing.
We will now be including these new caps with all new bot purchases. In the near term we will likely make them available for purchase individually, and they should range from $3-$5 depending on size.
After a whirlwind trip to Burning Man, Party Robotics is back home and ready to serve you some delicious cocktails! If you’re looking for something to do this Sunday evening, September 14th, join us at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco for the Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge.You can get an ice cold cocktail from Bartendro or any of the other fabulous robotic bartenders available to serve your libation needs.
The Robot Happy Hour begins at 5pm and contest judging is at 9:30pm. Tickets are available for $10 in advance or $12 at the door and includes two robot drink chips. We look forward to seeing you there!
Hey everyone, I hope you've been enjoying your summer with some tasty beverages. Things have been ebbing and flowing in Party Robotics land over the last couple of months. We ran out of several things some weeks back, but now we're stocked up on everything again, and the best news is that Bartendro Dispensers are now 10 bucks less! Did we change anything about them? Nope! As we've been refining our process, and understanding our costs better, we've decided that we would pass the savings on to you. It might not seem like much, but every little bit helps when you're trying to build a big bot.
For those in the Bay Area, we've also officially signed up for the Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge, happening in about a month at the DNA Lounge in SF. Come root for your favorite robots. The event is on a Sunday from 5pm to Midnight and tickets cost $10 in advance.
We finally made it to the infamous Roboexotica in Vienna! The city is a bit chilly this time of year, but it's beautifully decorated in lights and ornaments creating a festive holiday spirit. What better place for serving cocktails from bots?
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When we made it to the venue, we were surprised to find that it was smaller than we were expecting. The venue at BarBot in SF was about double the size. Another thing that caught us off guard was that we were supposed to purchase all the booze, whereas at BarBot it was always provided. We were encouraged to ask for tips which would help offset the cost of most, if not all of the booze. Finding all of the ingredients that we typically use was nearly impossible. Things like butterscotch schnapps and sour apple pucker, were non-existent, so our typical line-up was not going to be appearing. We were handed cherry liquor and gin to start us out, so we started improvising and creating new drinks as fast as we could.
Thursday was hectic because booze was still arriving while we were setting up, and we seemed to be constantly short on cups, ice or straws. We managed, but knew we would have to prepare better for the following days. Friday and Saturday were insanely busy! We beat our previous records for drinks dispensed, serving over 300 cocktails in one night. Things went a lot smoother once it was all hands on deck. Aleta, Max, Rob and I were all talking to the crowds and restocking whatever was missing. Oliver (Marc Shrank), one of our Kickstarter backers from Germany even came out to visit and helped us for several of the days. Fortunately, there were enough snippets of time for all of us to be able to check out the rest of the bots and sample their tasty concoction. There were two other bots from the US, one made by Rich Gibson from California, and one by Ryan Finnigan of Colorado. A full listing can be found here
. The exhibition packed an aggressive schedule, starting at 4pm everyday and ending at 1am, but we usually didn't leave until around 4am.
The interactivity and creativity of the bots was very amusing. One bot had you insert a set of tubes into your mouth, while your opponent did the same, and with fake guns fire at each other's sensor; the winner got booze, the loser straight lemon juice. There was a Minecraft video game that dispensed drinks if you activated certain things within the game, a bowling game, and a bot that dispensed booze from a bird perched on a branch if you tweeted about it. My personal favorite for sheer monstrosity and complexity was the Robomoji which only made mojitos. It had ice crushing and fresh lime squeezing features which were impressive. It also dispensed fresh mint and cane sugar, muddled them, and dispensed soda at the end. A behemoth that's been in the works for 12 years! Check out the bot making a drink.
Overall, Bartendro 15 was very well received and we gave at least four interviews. The bot was packed in a cardboard box and it was checked in as luggage with no oversize or overweight fees. It survived both ways, and so did we. The event, although exhausting, was tremendously fun and educational. We made over a thousand drinks in the four days we were there, and were even net positive after counting the tips. I'd like to say we'll make it next year, but we shall see, we'll have to make a more creative entry next time. At the award ceremony, Johannes presented us with an award for "the proliferation of cocktail robotics." Thanks to all who came, organized, hosted, helped, supported, drank and tipped!
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B15 tending to thirsty visitors[/caption]
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LayerBot - Makes a layered Kahlua, Bailey's, and Cointreau[/caption]
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The Time Machine - flings you back in time where your only hope to get back is by making a drink.[/caption]
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Dead Donny's Drunken Bowling[/caption]
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Twitt Shitter - poops a baby blue shot upon tweeting to it, or following it on twitter.[/caption]
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Shoot 'n Shot - shoot your opponent with a quick draw and get a shot.[/caption]
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Robomoji - A Rube Goldberg-esque contraption that makes wonderful mojitos.[/caption]
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Outside of the Time Machine[/caption]
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Amalettomat - Makes tasty crépes and fills them with Nutella or cinnamon/sugar.[/caption]
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PistonBot - Makes strange noises while dispensing your booze.[/caption]
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BunnyBot - poops peanuts for you.[/caption]
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The Smell of Defeat - play rock paper scissors with a bot.[/caption]
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Barwin - uses an evolutionary algorithm to serve better drinks over time.[/caption]
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Underneath Cock's Bar[/caption]
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Cock's Bar - dispenses dry ice to insta-chill every drink that's made.[/caption]
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Rob getting interviewed for Austrian TV.[/caption]
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MELMACC - now accepting bitcoins![/caption]
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The Award Ceremony. (Johannes never stands still)[/caption]
BarBot was held last weekend for the second time this year! The event has been gaining enough popularity to warrant a bi-yearly occurrence. Entrants have more than doubled since we started in 2010! The venue at the Oddfellow's Hall in SF on 7th and Market was quite nice. It felt larger than previous venues and each bot had plenty of space between it and its neighbors. The lighting was even colorful, creating a fantastic atmosphere for sampling all the different robot made cocktails. While the timing was a little strange, coinciding with an otherwise busy Halloween weekend, it made sense once we learned that it was part of science week. It was really great to see some of our delivered Kickstarter dispensers being put to use in other peoples' bots, solving real peoples' problems. Below is a small sampling of our pictures, but of course we didn't get it all. Honorable mentions go to un-pictured bots Simon Says Bot!, PistonBot, Elixirator, Irish Coffee Bot, and whomever else I missed. Find the rest of our set on Flickr.
This coming Sunday we'll be at a more local event called The Chemistry of Cocktails, where Bartendro will be serving it's usual array of several dozen cocktails. After that we'll be gearing up to go to the granddaddy of all cocktail robot festivals....Roboexotica in Vienna, December 5-8th! We've heard so many great things, and are very excited to go and experience it for ourselves.
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Schrödinger’s Martini being enjoyed by Lenore[/caption]
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Space Man Sam dancing for a drink on 500SW[/caption]
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The Manhattan Project[/caption]
Last Wednesday and Thursday, we were at the Santa Clara Convention Center checking out RoboBusiness for the first time. It was really great to see so many familiar and new robot companies.
We were one of 15 companies giving a 2 minute pitch about our startup at an event called Pitchfire. Probably not-so-coincidentally, we were placed back to back with Monsieur, the other cocktail bot on Kickstarter. We gave our spiel and a quick demo of Bartendro, but then we were asked to each take an extra minute to explain the differences between our bots and markets on stage. It may not have been the most appropriate thing to do, but I think it worked out ok. Barry is a good speaker and people were drawn to the mysterious black box that is Monsieur. We've worked hard and spent a long time making Bartendro's internal workings as clean and simple as possible, so we like showing that off. For the geeks and technically inclined, it's highly appreciated.
How about you, do you like seeing Bartendro’s working components, or do you prefer an enclosed design?
There were many exhibitors at the Sponsor Showcase; from growing companies like ReThink Robotics
, and Unbounded Robotics
, to established companies like Adept and ABB. Some of our favorites though were the innovative startup companies like Rise Robotics and Tempo Automation
We were fortunate to get a chance to impress a few people and connect with industry. RoboBusiness has been growing by about 30% every year. It’s clear that the future of robotics is bright, especially with so many smart and passionate individuals at the helm. Looking forward to being there next year.
Water to Wine, our little pet project from a few years ago was just featured in Make Magazine today
! This article is the first in what will hopefully be a number of articles on how to make drink bots.
Thanks Make magazine -- the article looks great!
Ever since the first cocktail was poured people have been searching out ways to do it faster and with better accuracy. Millions of dollars are spent every year on the newest bartending gadget or gizmo. Then, when robot technology started to become more accessible people began tinkering with the idea of creating a robotic bartender. We’ve seen them in movies, but how close are we to actually having one at home to make us that perfect drink? Well, probably a lot closer than you think.
Party Robotics has been working hard for the last five years to bring a simple, fun robot that dispenses delicious cocktails into the mainstream marketplace. However, we’re not the only ones out there creating bartending robots. Let’s take a look at what else is available in the world of drink bots.
In the commercial world you really only have few options. One is the RoboBar
, manufactured by MotoMan. With a pricetag of $160,000 this behemoth of a bot is not exactly feasible for home bar enthusiasts. RoboBar is serious about giving people the robot bartender experience and comes equipped with a lifesize robot; dressed in a tux and featuring a male or female personality. This bot is not designed to assist bartenders, but replace them, touting that it can “work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without breaks, vacations, holidays, or sick time (or hangovers).”
Another bot that is available to purchase right now is the Virtual Bartender
from Digital Beverages
. This is a bot for those with money to spend and the space to set it up. The Virtual Bartender weighs in at 350 pounds, is about the size of a large dishwasher and requires a drain, and hot/cold water line connections. Much like the RoboBar, The Virtual Bartender has a LCD touch screen and can deliver a wide range of drinks, boasting it can hold up to 32 different ingredients. Adding one of these bots to your home will set you back between $5,800 - 7,500.
Next we get into the world of diy bots which are not available for purchase at this time. The first is The Inebriator
. You may have heard of this guy as he gathered up a bit of publicity on the interwebz back in September of last year. The Inebriator is an Arduino powered cocktail machine created in the UK by Ian Cooper and Jake Osborne. The bot holds nine liquor bottles upside down on the upper level and stashes its mixers in a custom cooler
down below. Any mixers need to be moved from their original bottles into plastic containers which have been plumbed with two pipes, one leading to a gas tank and the other to a valve. Drinks are ordered from a special controller box and a glass then moves under the bottles along a conveyer belt. The bot can dispense a drink in about 30 seconds, depending on how many ingredients it contains.
Another bot which is quite similar to The Inebriator is MELMACC
. This cocktail dispensing machine was built by Oliver Höftberger, Robert Neuner, and Michael Mueller. The bot also utilizes the conveyer belt design, though does not have a gas tank or separate cooler box for mixers. Instead the mixers sit in their own special containers next to the alcohol. Drinks are also a bit slow to come from MELMACC, clocking in at about 40 seconds.
There are several other fun little speciality bots out there which make appearances at events such as Roboexotica and BarBot. There is Layerbot
which uses peristaltic pumps to create layered shots, Robomoji
that crafts mojitos, and SoBEaR
, the breathalyzer/booze dispensing teddy bear.
As you can see there are lots of projects and attempts at delivering an amazing robot bartender to the masses. Our own creation, Bartendro, is going to be making its debut on Kickstarter soon and we’re hoping that it will meet all of your home bar needs. The newest models are lightweight and can easily be carried by one person, uses peristaltic pumps to give the most accurate drinks possible, delivers those drinks in less than 10 seconds, has an interactive user interface which can be run off your smartphone or tablet, is easy to clean, and most importantly makes delicious precision cocktails (or crazy custom juice creations). If you want to check it out in person we’re going to be at Robogames’ annual BarBot
event in San Francisco on March 1st and 2nd. Come on down and let our bot get you drunk!!
Yesterday, Lauren Blomberg and Brian Matis came over to drink wine and help me with a photo shoot for Make magazine. Brian had taken dozens of shots in August '11 of the broken down components and assembly procedure from start to finish. The shots were well lit and well composed. Fancy white photo umbrellas go a long way apparently, when it comes to taking good shots.
The editor at Make recently started working on the article so it can go into their next issue, I believe volume 30. He found that he was missing some action shots though, with wine actually coming out of the machine. When we disassembled the machine for the August shoot, connectors, tubing and wires were cut and it sat that way for a while. Needing to take the action shots was good motivation to put it all back together. I used some new food grade tubing from the local beer brewing supply and put it all back together.
We took dozens of shots in the kitchen while spilling water and wine now and again as we tried to work air out of the lines. After about half an hour of fussing, everything was primed and ready. That's when the silliness began. As we drank more and more wine, we began to become more intimate with the machine
. Finally, Lauren thought it would be a good idea to put her mouth up directly to the outlet and consume that miraculous goodness. It was priceless.