‘BeerBots’ Can Fetch Booze For People Too Lazy To Get Up

We all know the struggle: You’re vegging out on the couch, eyes on your favorite Netflix show, hand tight around a half-empty craft brew. The last thing you want to do is get up and get yourself another beer.

Now imagine you can get a robot to fetch you a beer while you stay comfortably seated on the couch. That’s exactly the idea behind BeerBots, a team of robots developed by researchers at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Here’s the big bartender bot, which stays behind the bar and waits for the little waiter robots to deliver people’s drink orders.

For their experiments, the MIT researchers turned their laboratory into a testing ground where the two small robo-waiters, called “turtlebots,” could roam freely. The turtlebots, which resembled coolers on wheels, traveled back and forth from the bar to rooms where people were sitting, and they’d take drink orders from the human participants. When someone requested a beer, a turtlebot traveled to a third machine, the large robot “bartender,” which supplied the beverage. Then the turtlebot delivered the beer to the person.

The BeerBots used algorithms to plan, reason and fill the orders. In addition, each turtlebot had to determine which orders were requested in which room and when the other turtlebot had delivered drinks, said MIT communications coordinator Adam Conner-Simons in a statement about the project.

Here’s the big robo-bartender placing a drink into the cooler-on-wheels turtlebot, which then delivers it to the person who ordered it.

The project was the brainchild of Chris Amato, a former CSAIL postdoctoral researcher who is now a professor at the University of New Hampshire. Amato worked with a team of MIT professors, postdocs and graduate students to develop the BeerBots, —> Read More