Maker Where? Maker Faire! May 29 2013, 2 Comments

Since beginning our Kickstarter campaign in March we have had the opportunity to take Bartendro to many events, big and small. At most events we haven’t been allowed to serve drinks, instead loading up the bots with colored waters and serving up mocktails. Even without the visceral experience of consuming a tasty beverage, people are generally quite ecstatic at the thought of having a Bartendro of their very own. On May 18-19, we got to take Bartendro to one of our favorite events of the year, Maker Faire.

[caption id="attachment_804" align="aligncenter" width="400"]All set up and ready for the crowds All set up and ready for the crowds[/caption]

Rob and Pierre attended the first Maker Faire back in 2006 with a mere 20,000 other participants. The Faire has grown in leaps and bounds since then with over 100,000 people now attending. Pierre and I joined the other makers in setting up our booth in the expo hall on Friday night, soaking up the spirit of innovation all around. If you’ve never been to a Maker Faire I highly encourage you to find one in your area or come out to the big one in the Bay Area next year, you won’t be disappointed. Intelligent conversations abounded from makers based around the world, booths covering every kind of project you could fathom filled every nook and cranny of the San Mateo County Event Center, there was an electricity in the air and it smelled of innovation.

The next morning we showed up bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to finish setting up. We brought out Bartendro 15, ShotBot, and Water-to-Wine, which was featured in a recent issue of MAKE Magazine. Soon the gates were open and people began flooding in. We poured hundreds of mocktails for thirsty onlookers, explaining all the ins and outs of creating Bartendro. Time and time again people expressed their love for our cocktail dispensing bot. It was a blast showing Bartendro to so many makers!

Unlike several other events we’ve attended we were fortunate to have help at the booth this go round, meaning we actually got to go experience the Faire, talk to other makers, and see their fantastic projects. My favorite was Tapigami, a giant city created entirely of tape by Danny Scheible. The city has taken Danny seven years and over 10,000 hours to create. We got to meet Danny, whose fingers never stopped moving and left us adorned with some of his taped creations. Pierre got a kick out of the Latte Art bot set up next to us which he had print out the Party Robotics logo on a latte.

[caption id="attachment_806" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Tapigami Tapigami City[/caption] Party Robotics Logo

Overall, Bartendro was very well received. We did several interviews, being deemed "The most important invention in the history of time" by Anthony at DNews. Bartendro also earned its first ribbon, named MAKE Magazine’s Editor’s Choice. We’re already looking forward to next year!

Editor's Choice Award


A New Addition to the Team May 07 2013, 0 Comments

Hello everyone! My name is Garran, and I recently joined the Party Robotics team as the mechanical engineer. I first met Pierre at the Cal Poly Robotics Club approximately 7 years ago. After school we worked together at iRobot for four years. I have lots of experience with complex mobile robots and am excited to get Bartendro up and ready to serve. Currently, I’m working on bringing the bots from prototype to production state. This entails a lot of modeling, creating drawings, and bookkeeping. I am also helping to build fixtures which will allow us to make precision parts quickly and easily.

Garran

We are done designing Bartendro 1 and 3, and all of the parts are on order. We adjusted the dimensions to accommodate larger bottles and Bartendro 3 has a new spout assembly. We also added new features so that the frame can easily be upgraded with a back cover and a cup holder.

shotbot_model

B3_model                   Now that the smaller bots have been finalized we will be putting the finishing touches on Bartendro 7 and 15. Most recently we have added a more accessible power socket and switch. While Pierre and I have been focusing on Bartendro hardware, Rob has been working on software upgrades. He’s creating software packages from the Bartendro source code so that we can use the regular debian package system to update the software in the field. This will make it simple to install all of the software for Batendro. Part of this is working out a security model for Bartendro. Given that we have a Linux box with its own network, there are a number of security implications that we need to consider. Afterall, we don't want random people to hack into your Bartendro and abuse it, or worse, waste your booze. While these features may not sound all that interesting to everyone who can't wait to get their hands on Bartendro, they are critical for making it possible to upgrade the software on the bots after we ship to our backers. Once these updates have been finished he will be building a system that lets us easily create the SD cards which acts as Bartendro’s brains.

Then, he’ll be working on creating a settings system. This will allow the owner of the bot to access the admin screen and change the behavior of the bot. Currently, all the configuration changes are settings in the code, which isn’t great for end-users. Around this time he will also create an option to let the owner choose if a bot is a ShotBot or a cocktail mixing machine. With this feature, any Bartendro 3 and up can be used in ShotBot mode, which simply dispenses a shot of whatever booze is in the bot, rather than making a mixed cocktail.

These are all of the most critical functions needed in order to begin shipping out the bots. After they’ve been finished Rob will begin looking at the new features people have requested and start working on the things that will make the most people happy. We are still somewhat on schedule with our delivery estimates. We anticipate being able to ship kits by the end of May, but Shotbot and Bartendro 3 will likely be going out by early June, and bigger bots will follow later that month. Want to check out Bartendro in person? We'll be at the San Luis Obispo Mini Maker Faire on May 11 and at the Maker Faire in San Mateo on May 18th and 19th. Bay Area Maker Faire Web Badge

Post Kickstarter Updates April 04 2013, 2 Comments

We did it! On March 31st we watched as the Kickstarter clock counted down to zero. At 8pm we pressed the pour button on ShotBot and took a celebratory swig of whiskey. With all of your support we were able to exceed our Kickstarter goal by over $60k. We’ve been furiously working on finalizing the latest revisions to the electronics and placing materials orders. If everything goes smoothly, we anticipate the Bartendro kits to begin shipping at the end of May and full bots shortly thereafter.

We’ve begun collaborating with several other engineers to help us refine some of our components, making them more production ready and durable for users. Out of this collaboration came the design for our bottle tops which I’m pleased to share with you here for the first time!

Bottle Cap

Bottle Cap

Bottle Cap

Bottle Cap

Some of you have noticed that we opened up the forums last week. We’ve created forums for discussion on software, hardware, firmware, drinks, and general topics. The drinks forum is the newest addition, just added today. This is the place to share recipes and talk about database enhancements. We’re trying to figure out the best method to rate and share drinks and how to handle drinks that have the same ingredients with different names. We’ve discussed the possibility of searching by region, voting on most widely accepted name, having an alternative name section, etc. There are a lot of possibilities and we would love to hear your ideas! Please note that if you share drink recipes it’s not guaranteed to be added to the database. However, if we see something intriguing we might try it out on one of the prototype bots and report back to you :)

We’ve had quite a few emails since the Kickstarter ended asking about how to purchase a Bartendro. Well, we’re not quite there yet. Delivering to existing backers is our first priority. If you’d like to be the first to get any updates about pre-orders then you should join our new mailing list.

Last, we’d like to invite you to come get an in-person Bartendro demo. Pierre and I will be at the Stanford Cool Products Expo on April 10th, if you’d like to come check out the bots and say hi.

   

Nightclub and Bar Show - First Encounters with Industry March 24 2013, 1 Comment

After a long 7 hour slog, we arrived to pleasantly warm Las Vegas and went straight to the trade show floor to get our badges and check out our booth. We learned about the free cart load service and got our stuff unloaded from the car and set up our booth in the space of an hour. Our neighbors at Spiked Shakers were quite friendly, and other neighbors gladly lent us things we needed like fishing line, which is apparently one of the best ways to hang a banner. After setting up and checking into our hotel we went to Lavo at the Venetian for happy hour and mingled with Joseph and Brett from IPourIt. Then we walked down to Caesar's Palace where we attended the kickoff party at the pool with food and beverages being covered by the sponsors. Met several more people that were friendly and had lots of advice to give. IMG_3999 The next morning we prepared our bottles with colored water and got ready for opening hours. Even though our placement in the new product pavilion put is in an unfavorable spot behind a giant pillar, we still had a decent amount of traffic. We were targeted and found by numerous people that had seen the Kickstarter video. It was great to be sought out. A company approached us rather aggressively and even offered to buy us out; it was a day full of excitement. The following day, I watched Jon Taffer from Bar Rescue give a talk about successes and failures in the bar industry. It was rather illuminating to see how hard it could be in that industry. As the day wore on, I walked around several times and made alliances with some of the nice folks in the industry. It was overall a successful event, definitely worth our time. We learned a lot about what people are interested in and what currently exists and how we could collaborate with others. Looking forward to doing it again next year. IMG_4018

Drink Testing Gets You Drunk February 27 2013, 3 Comments

In preparation for BarBot this weekend we all sat down and decided what alcohol and mixers should be in each of the bots, Bartendro 15 and Bartendro 7. Once we figured out what each bot would hold we took a peek into the drink database to see what cocktails we would be able to serve. As it stood we were only going to be able to offer about 20 cocktail varieties. We had added several new liquors and mixers to the lineup and needed to find drinks which included them. Since I love doing research I volunteered to find us more drinks to add to the database. I set out on my drink finding mission only to discover fairly skimpy online resources.

While there are several websites out there that allow you to enter the contents of your bar and will then give you drink options, they weren’t overly useful. The databases were very limited and hard to use. I instead found myself looking at one ingredient at a time and skimming through hundreds of drink recipes searching for matching ingredients. Talk about time consuming! One of Party Robotics’ goals is to create a community of cocktail enthusiasts. Each time a person discovers or creates a new drink they can add it to our database. Before long we hope to have created a fantastic place where people around the world can easily try new cocktails. Entering new recipes is simple and they can be tweaked right on the spot in just a few clicks. After I found new recipes Rob and I took on the hardest work of all... testing the drinks! We have come up with some really tasty cocktails for BarBot this weekend and will be offering 52 different drinks! If you end backing our Kickstarter project and acquiring a Bartendro of your own you’ll be able to try some of these delicious concoctions at home. My personal favorites are the Gummy Bears and Buttermilk. NOM! Check out the BarBot drink list below and decide what you're going to try this weekend!

Bartendro UI

Bartendro 7
Bahama Mama - White Rum, Dark Rum, Pineapple Juice, Orange Juice, Grenadine Beach Bum - Dark Rum, Pineapple Juice
Pina Colada - White Rum, Pineapple Juice, Coconut Milk
Tequila Sunrise - Tequila, Orange Juice, Grenadine
Calypso Baby - White Rum, Pineapple Juice, Grenadine
Florida Sunshine - Tequila, Pineapple Juice, Orange Juice, Grenadine
Pain Killer - Dark Rum, Pineapple Juice, Orange Juice, Coconut Milk
Rum Screwdriver - White rum, Orange Juice
Saoco - White Rum, Coconut Milk
Tequlia Screwdriver - Tequila, Orange Juice 

Bartendro UI

Bartendro 15
Brown Cow - Kahlua, Milk 
Buttermilk - Butterscotch Schnapps, Milk 
Buttery Nipple - Butterscotch Schnapps, Baileys
Cosmopolitan - Vodka, Triple Sec, Simple Syrup, Lime Juice, Cranberry Juice
Gummy Bears - Midori, Triple Sec, Simple Syrup, Lime Juice, Cranberry Juice
Kamikaze - Vodka, Triple Sec, Lime Juice
Lemon Drop - Vodka, simple Syrup, Lemon Juice
Mudslide - Vodka, Kahlua, Baileys
Real Whiskey Sour - Whiskey, Simple Syrup, Lime Juice, Lemon Juice
Sour Apple Martini - Vodka, Sour Apple Pucker
Vodka Cranberry - Vodka, Cranberry Juice
Washington Apple - Whiskey, Sour Apple Pucker, Cranberry Juice
2nd Period - Kahlua, Baileys, Milk
Adam & Eve - Vodka, Sour Apple Pucker, Cranberry Juice
Amaretto Sour - Amaretto, Simple Syrup, Lemon Juice
Apple Jolly Rancher - Vodka, Sour Apple Pucker, Simple Syrup, Lime Juice, Lemon Juice
B-28 - Amaretto, Kahlua, Butterscotch Schnapps, Baileys
Baby Guinness - Kahlua, Baileys
Baileys & Amaretto - Amaretto, Baileys
Baileys Straight - Baileys
Big Red - Cinnamon Schnapps, Baileys
Black Russian - Vodka, Kahlua
Black Unicorn - Kahlua, Butterscotch Schnapps, Baileys
Broken Down Golf Cart - Vodka, Amaretto, Midori, Cranberry Juice
Butter Kahlua Bliss - Kahlua, Butterscotch Schnapps, Milk
Butterballs - Kahlua, Butterscotch Schnapps
Caramel Apple - Butterscotch Schnapps, Sour Apple Pucker
Carrot Cake - Kahlua, Cinnamon Schnapps, Baileys
Emerald Martini - Vodka, Midori, Triple Sec
Girl Scout Cookie - Kahlua, Baileys
Golden Apple - Cinnamon Schnapps,
Sour Apple Pucker Hot Scott - Kahlua, Cinnamon Schnapps
Low Carb Vodka Lemon - Vodka, Lemon Juice
Oatmeal Cookie - Kahlua, Cinnamon Schnapps, Butterscotch Schnapps, Baileys
Pure Ecstasy - Vodka, Kahlua, Baileys
Red Rover - Kahlua, Cinnamon Schnapps, Butterscotch Schnapps, Baileys
Screaming Orgasm - Vodka, Kahlua, Baileys
Toasted Almond - Amaretto, Kahlua, Milk
Vodka Gimlet - Vodka, Simple Syrup, Lime Juice
Vodka Lemon - Vodka, Triple Sec, Lemon Juice
Whiskey Lemonade - Whiskey, Simple Syrup, Lemon Juice


ORD Camp drink report February 04 2013, 1 Comment

A little over a week ago we were fortunate enough to attend ORD Camp in Chicago. Pierre and I spent the weeks leading up to ORD Camp working on the newest version of Bartendro. We literally finished putting all the pieces together in the hotel room in Chicago and once we arrived at ORD Camp. Up until we arrived at ORD Camp, the bot had never served a single drink!
Bartendro @ ORD Camp (photo by John Tolva)
What could've easily turned into a "demo nightmare" turned out to be a success! Aside from one minor hiccup at the start, Bartendro did an amazing job of pouring drinks all evening long. The reactions Bartendro received were stunning! My favorite quote would have to be: "I've seen a lot of awesome, but this is the best thing EVAR. EVAR!" It seems that everyone was pleased with our invention -- we ended up pouring 149 drinks that evening! The model shown on the above is Bartendro 7: it has 7 pumps and can dispense 7 different types of liquids and serve 14 different drinks. At ORD Camp we loaded the bot with:
  1. Lime juice
  2. Cranberry juice
  3. Butterscotch schnapps
  4. Sour apple pucker
  5. Kahlua
  6. Bailey's
  7. Vodka
Bartendro gave us the following report at the end of the evening:
Total number of drinks: 149 Total volume of drinks: 18.032 Liters
drink number volume (L)
Mudslide 35 4.175
Vodka cranberry 25 3.12
Sour apple martini 20 2.37
Buttery nipple 15 1.53
Vodka gimlet 15 1.858
Black russian 11 1.47
Black unicorn 8 1.049
Caramel apple 6 0.69
Baby guinness 5 0.63
Girl scout cookie 4 0.51
Butterballs 2 0.27
Pure ecstasy 2 0.24
Screaming orgasm 1 0.12
I was especially pleased how well people adapted to it after their first drink. There were quite a few repeat customers who knew exactly what to do to get their drink. Two or three taps, hold the cup under the spout, press POUR wait a few seconds and they were off to rejoin whatever shenanigans that were underway.
It was a great evening -- thanks to everyone who came and helped us test the latest incarnation of Bartendro. We're gearing up for a Kickstarter soon and if you're interested in getting your own bot or pumps to make your own bot, stay tuned on this blog or follow us on Twitter.

Tales of the Cocktail 2012 August 07 2012, 0 Comments

After embarking on a 5 day journey to the beautiful city of NOLA, we have a new found respect for bartenders and the enjoyment of cocktails. This city is magical and exudes the vibe of good times.
We showed up to the Big Easy on 8/26 and as I was walking into my hotel room, I said hello to the two girls that were standing in front of the room next to mine. About 20 seconds later I heard a knock on my door, "Hey neighbor!" it was the girls with an offering of two bottles of imported wine and a wine corker, they handed it to me and said "Here keep this, welcome!" This surely set the pace for the rest of the trip. The handouts of booze, on the street seemingly to anyone that wanted them were surreal. We were handed rum and other concoctions by brand ambassadors looking to get the word out about their particular products. As the days wore on, we learned about the format, the tasting rooms, the complimentary events, and the seminars. Our goal was simple, show a Bartendro video to as many people and see their reactions. From what we gathered, the mix of people felt like 50% bartenders, 25% brand ambassadors, distributors and other industry people, and 25% cocktail enthusiasts. Not quite what we were expecting, but it made sense after we learned that you could have bottomless cocktails for 5 days for a $45 seminar fee. We met a lot of interesting people, many of which were very opposed to the idea of Bartendro. We explained that our creation was a tool for the bartenders to help hone their craft, not to act as competition, but their answers were consistent. "That's cool, but not in my bar." Other business types were more interested, which gave us hope. We attended the "Ins and outs of cocktails on tap" seminar. It was interesting to see how much controversy circled around using 100 year old beer kegging technology. People struggled with the issues of customer perception, keg shaking, line lengths and sanitation among others. It was eye opening. It was not the level of tech we were expecting from a cocktails on tap seminars, and astonishingly people were still very weary of such a minorly new concept. Overall, New Orleans captivated us. The food was amazing everywhere, the people super friendly, and the cocktails second to none, even (especially) the free ones. Hopefully we will be back with more involvement, maybe as presenters, or even as sponsors. Thanks to the people that put this event on and the excitement about awesome cocktails in a warm and full of character city. Cheers!  

A Couple of Great Events - Barbot and Drinco de Mayo May 13 2012, 0 Comments

It's amazing sometimes how much can happen in a couple months. In March, we went to Barbot 2012 in San Francisco to mingle with like minded cocktail making technologists. It was great to see familiar faces and meet new ones. Bartendro's aesthetic was spot on. It was a bold, shiny, well-lit piece of art. The bot performed admirably on Friday night dispensing 172 drinks, but we ran into some hardware/software issues that almost made the bot inoperable at the start of the Saturday run. We muscled through several issues and brought half of the pumps back to life for a usable 6 drinks. People were still impressed it could make that many, since most other bots were only doing 1 or 2 drinks. We were dismayed though because we had a selection of 30 drinks the night before. People were overall thrilled and welcoming of our robotic future, where drinks come with a button press. We got mentioned in a Make Blog about how we are "veering dangerously close to commercial viability."Flickr Set of Barbot 2012 At the end of the event we stayed up late into the night rehashing all the things that could have gone better; a post-mortem analysis if you will. We agreed that upside down bottles were not the way to go. The upside down bottle concept carried over from our original desires to have a gravity-fed machine. The aesthetic is really cool. It seems like it would be a simple, no-fuss no-brainer; you can see the bottles and just swap them out when they run out. The problem arises when catering to larger crowds, not being able to refill the bottles as people are using the machine can cause quite a bit of downtime and this is a pretty big issue if this machine is to live in a commercial application. Also, the vent holes on the bottle caps (needed to not cause a vacuum) were prone to being leaky and messy. From looking around at the other bots this year, it seemed apparent that the winning combo is upright bottles and peristaltic pumps. We made a long list of things to fundamentally change about our design. We would ditch the stainless steel skin and go with a simpler design. The pumps would also need a form of adjustability to reduce leakage and contamination of drinks. Over a couple of months I iterated over modification designs that would allow for adjustment with one knob. Finally, we had something worthwhile. I retrofitted the pump with new tubing to and re-routed it. Meanwhile, in software land, the UI received a face lift. Elements could now be added or removed at will depending on the type of party, things like drink size and taster buttons were made optional. Drinks could also be modified on the scales of alcohol strength and sweetness/tartness. We prepared and showed up at an event called Taco de Mayo, where our friend rents a taco truck that serves endless tacos. Naturally, our bot was transmorphed into a margarita bot. There was 6 different kinds of tequila that could be selected to go into your drink and even a game to check for sobriety if you selected the top-shelf stuff. Several other drinks could be made too including a Dirty Sanchez and White Oaxacan. 201 drink dispensed in all. Our best performance yet. We received great tips and ideas from our friends to pursue. We're going to take our technical hats off for a month and put our business ones on to try to go make this available at your favorite restaurants. Cheers!