When I saw the words “beer” and “robot” in a Tweet on Friday (thanks @LaraNicotra) I figured I had seen this post before… it was either the “smart” beer coaster system, the irritating Japanese beer-pouring robot, or the radio controlled “robot” cooler that doubles as a crappy toy. But after reading through what I thought was an elaborate April Fools joke in July, I watched the video and holy crap… these guys built a beer-serving robot.
The guys (and girls) at hardware/software company Willow Garage had a hackathon, which is pretty much a week-long, sleepless, coding frenzy in which the super-geniuses we often call nerds set their DVRs to catch all the new episodes of Futurama, and simply focus on their goal… no matter how many baths they have to skip.
For this hackathon, they set out to build a beer fetching robot using a “PR2 base,” which is an existing robot with eyes, wheels, arms and hands that can be controlled via a web app. Number 5 is definitely alive at Willow Garage.
Based on the video, it looks like their hackathon was a success… the robot can locate a fridge, open the door, check to see what beers are in stock, load the bottles into it’s beer coozies, and serve the beer to a person in the room it was hailed from. It even does face-detection and recognizes a person giving the beer a tug in the handoff before releasing it’s claw so that no beers end up smashed on the floor. No bottle opener? No problem… they even programmed the bot to either pass you an opener or open it for you.
The only thing that’s stopping the robotic beer wench from replacing the soft, fleshy kind is speed (check the end of the video below). By the time the robot gets me my beer (and leaves the fridge door open that long) the beer will be warm and I’ll be sober. But the Willow Garage Team seems to be working on the robot’s “algorithms” to speed things up. What, are you guys making up words? I know you’re impressively smart for doing this, but real beer wenches don’t use algorithms–some of them don’t even have brains… oh, but they do have boobs… see if you can work those into v.2.
Great job though… until now, my Roomba was my favorite robot–but he can barely balance a beer on top of his head before spinning into dirt detect mode. You have shown us the future of robotics.