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New cruise ship robot bartender revealed

Details of robotic arms featuring in the “world’s first” crowd-controlled mechanical bar were revealed this week when the device made its debut on-board a luxury cruise ship.

These are the robotic arms that will mix cocktails for guests on-board the new Anthem of the Seas cruise ship

It was first revealed in August last year that a new line of Royal Caribbean cruise ships would feature a “bionic bar” with app-controlled robot bartenders.

However full details of the Makr Shakr system, designed by an MIT professor, were revealed only this week on the Royal Caribbean’s “smart” cruise ship, Anthem of the Seas, in Southampton.

The system allows users to create personalised cocktail recipes in real-time through a smartphone application, creating “almost limitless” crowd-sourced drinks combinations.

These drinks are then created by two robotic arms which are able to “mimic the actions of a bartender”, shaking Martinis, slicing lemons and muddling Mojitos.

Guests can also name their own favourite recipes, access their order history and reorder their favourite combinations, while rating and commenting on those created by others.

“Makr Shakr is a great example of how robotic technologies are changing the interaction between people and products – a topic that we have been exploring in great depth” said Carlo Ratti, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-founder of Makr Shakr.

“The system explores the new dynamics of social creation and consumption – ‘design, make and enjoy’ – allowing users to design their own cocktail creations, while digitally controlled machines transform these designs into reality.”

The robots’ movements were modeled on the gestures of Italian choreographer Marco Pelle from New York Theatre Ballet.

Makr Shakr also creates “social connections” which are fed back to the user through the app, allowing customers to “learn from each other” and share connections, recipes and photos on social media.

However Saverio Panata, COO of Makr Shakr, stresses that the system does not suggest “replacing bartenders with robots”, but was instead conceived as a “social experiment that looks at how people might embrace the new possibilities offered by robotics and digital manufacturing”.

“Digital connectivity is not replacing physical interactions, but rather reinforcing them”, he added.

Makr Shakr collaborated with Automation Company CIA, German robot Manufacturer Kuka, IT consultants Seac02 and installation construction company Kibox, among others.

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