It's been a great year for us here at Party Robotics. We've attended many events with our Bartendro and won first place at the Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge at the DNA lounge. But more importantly, we've enjoyed hearing your feedback and seeing the awesome projects you've made for business and for pleasure. We've attached some pictures and videos of projects we've heard back from this year. Check them out below. We love getting pics of your setups, so please do send them!
We've also been making some improvements within. We recently started using a better platform for turning our manuals into beautiful guides, and a few months back, Sparkfun started distributing our Bartendro Dispensers. We have many ideas going forward on how to improve our products and our documentation and we're looking forward to kicking off 2015 with some exiting new things. May you enjoy your holidays with your loved ones and robot made cocktails, and we'll see you next year!
On September 14th, the Party Robotics team once again took Bartendro out to play with some of the other cocktail robots in San Francisco at the DNA Lounge’s Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge. While we’ve attended other Bar Bot events before, this was our first time competing for prize money. Once again, Bartendro was a crowd favorite serving over 200 drinks to a vivacious crowd. When judging time came we gathered in anticipation. Third place was awarded to Tikibot who delivered world class shaken Mai Tais. Second place went to the always amazing Cosmobot who always serves up our favorite dry ice chilled drinks. First place was given to yours truly, Bartendro!! Many thanks to the DNA Lounge and all of our other fine cocktail robot competitors, keep on doing what you’re doing and dreaming up new ways of getting people drunk.
In other exciting news, The Long Now Foundation
is running a fundraiser to spruce up their literary bar, The Interval in San Francisco. Part of the money raised will go to building the Bespoke Gin Robot. This bot uses Bartendro Dispensers to deliver custom gin infusions using 15 different botanicals. If you love robots, gin, and tasty beverages consider donating
and making their bar even better than it is now. We’ll be sure to let you know when the Bespoke Gin Robot is up and running so you can go try it out!
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!
Makers, they're a crafty bunch. We scrounge, we forage and we use are expert resourcefulness to bind our projects together, sometimes with a little more hot glue and zip-ties than necessary. As makers, we generally try to accomplish our goals without re-inventing everything. We use the tools and gadgets that our co-conspirators have already developed to build on top of and get to results as quickly as possible. The quicker we fail, the quicker we can move on to the next attempt. The speed with which we've been seeing things evolve lately is pretty phenomenal. When the barriers to innovation (like patents) are removed and others are allowed to use and build on top of the works of others, we see rapidly compounding effects. The open source movement has enabled so many, and has arguably only benefited the general public.
It's important to remember that making things in a vacuum doesn't benefit anyone. We need to share our projects and ideas with the community at large so that those ideas and projects can blossom to their full potential and inspire others. For us, today was a special day where we feel like we've done our small part to give back to the community. Our favorite supplier of hobbyist electronics and components, where we've spent a lot of time and money buying parts to build a lot of our projects, Sparkfun.com has started selling our Bartendro Dispensers to the Maker community. May others take the building blocks we've created and unleash their creativity with them like we've done with the parts of our predecessors.
In the same vein, a huge shout out goes out to the folks behind Arduino and Raspberry Pi, they have enabled us and hundreds of thousands of people to play and create without the fuss of knowing all the low level details. We were at the Maker Faire last weekend and got placed directly in front of the Arduino booth. We've bought and used dozens of Arduinos in the process of developing Bartendro over the years. So it was fantastic to come full-circle and hang out with Massimo Banzi, a co-founder of Arduino and personally thank him for making our lives that much easier. Thank you for getting us this far, our only hope now is that others may say the same about our stuff in the future. So go make come cool stuff and tell us about it!
You may have noticed over the last couple of weeks that our old website was decreasing in functionality. The blog and forums became inaccessible and for months, logging in was never reliable. Our site was under constant attack from spammers and people trying to hack the site. The spike in bandwidth caused our webhost to severely cripple our functionality and the ability for people to login was limited or locked out. So, we've decided to move to Shopify as our new host, where we can have a safer and more reliable environment for our users as well as a real shopping cart that we'll be adding more stuff to. You will notice that some of the places on our old site are not immediately accessible right now, while this is a transition period, it will likely take a few weeks for full migration to happen and all of our old info to find its new home. The forum that we were using is not compatible with our current setup, but we're trying to find a way to make sure we don't lose the old posts that people had put up. Again, hopefully in a few weeks it will all be running smoothly again.
As far as bot deliveries go, we are hitting snags on a regular basis, and they are mostly logistical in nature. It get's frustrating, and sometimes it feels like everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. The problem with setting dates, is that as soon as you do, something pops up that completely prevents you from being to hit that date. So, it makes me not want to set hard dates anymore. You should know that we are working as hard as we can and that bots will go out in the order that we received the orders. The current expectation is that a few bots will go out at the end of next week, and hopefully the remainder of them in the last week of May. In the meantime, relax, and make yourself a drink the old fashion way while you still can.
I should also mention that we'll be at the Maker Faire this weekend, so stop by and say hi if you're there.
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?
[caption id="attachment_1401" align="aligncenter" width="520"]
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!
[caption id="attachment_1376" align="alignleft" width="520"]
[caption id="attachment_1396" align="alignleft" width="520"]
B15 tending to thirsty visitors[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1395" align="alignleft" width="520"]
LayerBot - Makes a layered Kahlua, Bailey's, and Cointreau[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1394" align="alignleft" width="520"]
The Time Machine - flings you back in time where your only hope to get back is by making a drink.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1393" align="alignleft" width="520"]
Dead Donny's Drunken Bowling[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1392" align="alignleft" width="520"]
Twitt Shitter - poops a baby blue shot upon tweeting to it, or following it on twitter.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1391" align="alignleft" width="520"]
Shoot 'n Shot - shoot your opponent with a quick draw and get a shot.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1390" align="alignleft" width="520"]
Robomoji - A Rube Goldberg-esque contraption that makes wonderful mojitos.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1389" align="alignleft" width="520"]
[caption id="attachment_1388" align="alignleft" width="520"]
Outside of the Time Machine[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1387" align="alignleft" width="520"]
Amalettomat - Makes tasty crépes and fills them with Nutella or cinnamon/sugar.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1386" align="alignleft" width="520"]
PistonBot - Makes strange noises while dispensing your booze.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1385" align="alignleft" width="520"]
BunnyBot - poops peanuts for you.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1384" align="alignleft" width="520"]
The Smell of Defeat - play rock paper scissors with a bot.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1383" align="alignleft" width="520"]
[caption id="attachment_1381" align="alignleft" width="520"]
Barwin - uses an evolutionary algorithm to serve better drinks over time.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1380" align="alignleft" width="520"]
Underneath Cock's Bar[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1379" align="alignleft" width="520"]
Cock's Bar - dispenses dry ice to insta-chill every drink that's made.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1378" align="alignleft" width="520"]
Rob getting interviewed for Austrian TV.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1377" align="alignleft" width="520"]
MELMACC - now accepting bitcoins![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1397" align="alignleft" width="520"]
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.
[caption id="attachment_1317" align="alignleft" width="480"]
[caption id="attachment_1321" align="alignleft" width="480"]
[caption id="attachment_1322" align="alignleft" width="480"]
[caption id="attachment_1323" align="alignleft" width="480"]
[caption id="attachment_1324" align="alignleft" width="480"]
[caption id="attachment_1319" align="alignleft" width="480"]
Schrödinger’s Martini being enjoyed by Lenore[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1314" align="alignleft" width="480"]
[caption id="attachment_1330" align="alignleft" width="480"]
Space Man Sam dancing for a drink on 500SW[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1318" align="alignleft" width="480"]
[caption id="attachment_1320" align="alignleft" width="480"]
[caption id="attachment_1313" align="alignleft" width="480"]
[caption id="attachment_1315" align="alignleft" width="480"]
[caption id="attachment_1316" align="alignleft" width="480"]
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.
In the last few weeks, the Party Robotics Team has been travelling to rejuvenate and recharge. Some significant things have happened in those weeks too. Rob got married to Aleta in Bologna, Italy. Erin and I were there for the ceremony. It was very festive, and of course, much delicious food and wine was had.
Meanwhile Garran proposed to his girlfriend Alexis at Stonehenge in England after being together for two years. It's been a significant year so far with many changes for everyone at Party Robotics, changes in location, jobs and relationships. We've been holding on though and riding the tides. After visiting Rob in Bologna, I did a little more travelling on my own in Eastern Europe to visit some new places and collect some thoughts and inspiration about our future direction.
While we were away, another contender entered the drink bot making arena, namely the Monsieur. It's actually great to see others coming up with similar ideas in the drink bot world though. It validates what we're doing and gives us hope that there is a future for this industry. We will post a more in depth comparison about the similarities and differences of our bots in the coming weeks.
There are many emails in my inbox. If I haven't responded to you about something yet, don't despair I'm working my way through methodically. If you don't hear by Friday, you can poke me, or Erin again.
Over the next month or so, Garran and I will be focusing on coming up with a good carbonated liquid dispensing solution. It will almost be guaranteed to make the bot less portable, but there will have to be a sacrifice for the gain in features. Another thing that we will be tackling in the near term is creating the ability to control many dispensers, like on the order of 30, simultaneously. There are a couple of bars out there that are really bogged down by the speed it takes to make their precise craft cocktails. We plan on doing what we can to help them out with that.
On my travels, I met up with Magnus, one of the original founders of Roboexotica in 1999. He convinced me that Bartendro must be there this year, so we'll do our best to be in Vienna from December 5th-8th for this fantastic event. Locally though, there will be another BarBot event in San Francisco on October 25th and 26th at the Odd Fellows Hall. Maybe we'll see you there?
The last couple of weeks have been packed with goodness. We enlisted several friends to help us with the manufacturing process and we're really starting to get a handle on the workload. We started shipping out dispensers yesterday and will have all of them out this week. Kits are going out early next week. We did run into a little bit of a problem with our power supplies that we recently received. We quickly discovered that the wrong connectors were used on the 72W supplies and the manufacturer has acknowledged the problem and is having one of their partners do the rework for us. They've assured us it will take no longer than two weeks. So, large kits that use the 200W supply will actually be going out first, followed by small kits, then bots. There's still quite a bit of software to be cleaned up on the user interface side, but we're going to send out kits to those that want them anyway starting next week.
[caption id="attachment_1007" align="aligncenter" width="520"]
Erin shows off the drink menu to some thirsty innovators.[/caption]
Last Thursday we set up Bartendro at the San Jose Tech Museum and dispensed tasty cocktails with some of our fellow cocktail bot makers from Barbot. Bartendro has become such a joy to use now that it only takes less than 10 minutes to setup and teardown. It used to take over an hour to clean and was a huge hassle to carry and load into a car, plus the smell of booze seemed to always linger in the bot and therefore it could never be put in the backseat of a car. As the longest user of the bots, I am quite thrilled at the evolution and continual progress we've gone through to make our own lives much easier.
[caption id="attachment_1009" align="alignright" width="366"]
Runway Incubator is appropriately named[/caption]
On Friday, we were in San Francisco and met up with our hamburger-robot making friends at Momentum machines. We explored the possibility of dispensing ketchup, and mayo
. We were all amused to see that it worked quite nicely. Mayo was a little harder, but is an addressable problem if we improve the container that it is pumped from. Only a few days before that, we dispensed honey
which dispensed accurately, but less volume than we thought. If the dispensers are slowed down we can likely improve accuracy significantly. We also met Allan Young at the Runway Incubator where we came up with an interesting application for ShotBot: a drink-enough-water reminder / enforcer. Shots of water could be poured throughout the day to make it more fun and easy for people to drink enough, or fulfill doctor's orders.