The students had to develop both hardware and software for ROBODRINK. The students had to develop both hardware and software for ROBODRINK. (Clockwise from left) Michal Friedman, Yoav Mizrachi and Zorik Gekhman had to develop both hardware and software for RoboDrink. (Photo: RoboDrink / Technion)

We’ll drink to that: Students build robot bartender

Science project dishes out delicious drinks – and plays beer pong, too!

It started out innocently enough. Three students in a programming class at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology were told to come up with a project. After a brainstorming session, Michal Friedman, Yoav Mizrachi and Zorik Gekhman emerged with an idea that even people who knew nothing about computer science could enjoy: a robot bartender. Hooray for science!

Over the next three months, they built a real-life robot from scratch under the guidance of Professor Yossi Gil.

“We are software people, but in order to complete our project, we taught ourselves how to build the robot," explained Mizrachi. Their research included consulting local bartenders for drink tips.

The robot, dubbed "RoboDrink," can prepare cocktails from a built-in list based on users' personal preferences. You just plug the drink you want into your app and place a glass on the machine's platform. The robot then mixes your drink in seconds.

RoboDrink can hold eight bottles of juice and alcohol, so it can make an infinite number of drinks. Apparently, the students most enjoy the robot's Sex on the Beach, a juice and vodka cocktail.

Oh wait ... there's more. The machine even has a beer pong option. Really. Users can try and bounce ping pong balls into a basket attached to the machine. If you bounce a ball and it goes in, the machine pours out a perfectly measured shot for the loser, making the game no less intense than the mano a mano version.

The students first tested their creation by bringing it to place where they knew a beer-pong-playing, drink-pouring robot would be appreciated: a faculty party.

"People really got excited," Gekhman told From the Grapevine. "They were saying it was the coolest project they'd ever seen.”

“We didn’t think a lot of people would be so interested," added Michal. The team earned a 100% grade for their project, as it should be. The trio essentially created the perfect student: one that earns an A, makes drinks and plays beer-pong at the same time.

Students compete in a game of mechanical beer pong.Students compete in a game of mechanical beer pong. (Photo: ROBODRINK/Technion)

Now it was time for the big leagues. The students brought RoboDrink to a local bar one night and hosted a competition: bartender versus robot. The human and the machine mixed drinks, and the customers tasted the creations.

The results? Customers liked the robot drinks about the same as the bartender versions, which is a pretty big accomplishment, considering that the machine hardly had time to practice.

"It's very accurate," said Mizrachi. "It can measure out exact amounts of every drink."

Customers even asked the students where they could buy a RoboDrink (as did we). Unfortunately, the students have no plans to put their bartender on the market ... for now.

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