Robot hoovers. Virtual PAs. Self-driving cars. Sometimes it feels like every task will soon fall under the domain of robotic automation. While you ponder that over your after-work cocktail, you can feel relieved to drink the work of a professional with years of experience creating lick-smacking libations and volumes of drinks knowledge, skills no robot could every emulate. Right?
Entrepreneurs in Atlanta are bringing technology to the tavern by building what they call “an artificially intelligent robotic bartender.” The curiously-named contraption “Monsieur” comes with the pre-packaged capacity to mix 300 cocktails and, in a similar way to a 3D printer, allows for professionals and amateurs alike to upload their own recipes.
Not only does the machine mix drinks, but, like the best bartenders, it also remembers your favourites and learns to adapt its cocktails to your tastes both in terms of ingredients and the alcohol level of your drink. Unlike the best bars, Monsieur can change its theme at the touch of a screen. It can serve drinks you’d find in a sports bar one night and those you’d find at Mardi Gras the next. And of course it’s hooked up to your smartphone so you can preorder your drink before you’re anywhere near the machine.
So will robots replace bartenders just like they’re poised to do with chauffeurs? Highly unlikely. Firstly, Monsieur’s developers see the tool as a complement to places like hotel bars and restaurants that often have customers coming through that don’t necessarily want to wait at the bar. Secondly, the AI is going after the home market, selling to people that want the service of a cocktail bar without the bar.
With Monsieur retailing at $3,999, the company seems to be betting that hotels and restaurants will be its first customers. But more than a few individuals have taken bets on the company’s success. After raising $140,000 last year on Kickstarter from well over 100 doners, last week the company received backing from a seed capital fund to the tune of $2 million.