Going to a pub or bar enhances your enjoyment of the experience if the staff is polite and helpful.
Having to deal with a grumpy individual serving your pint or margarita, on the other hand, has the potential to drastically reduce your happiness levels. For those who have a favorite drinking establishment, the person behind the bar can even become a buddy and confidant.
Alternatively, as prominent Canadian economist Harry Gordon Johnson once stated, “the greatest accomplishment of a bartender resides in his ability to precisely suit his customer.” Ironically, those bartenders may soon cease to exist. Cecilia is a robotic bartender who mixes and serves cocktails and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to converse with customers like Alexa on an Amazon Echo speaker or Siri on an iPhone can.
The item resembles a tall fruit machine, except an animated female barmaid named Cecilia appears on a big, upright television screen. You may either tell her what cocktail you want or order it on the touch-screen below, then pay for it by tapping your bank card or phone. Your drink is then mixed, prepared in the machine before being delivered in a glass at the vending machine.
“Cecilia works on voice recognition and AI technology,” explains Elad Kobi, CEO of Cecilia.AI, the Israeli company behind the technology. “She can converse with consumers, and if they select a certain cocktail, she can mix it live.” According to the business, each device can hold 70 liters of various spirits and serve up to 120 cocktails each hour. At the very least, if clients do not stay for lengthy talks. The company first released the robot on February 24th, World Bartender Day. It has since been used at corporate gatherings hosted by Microsoft, the accounting company KPMG, and the technology firm Cisco.
Customers can purchase a Cecilia for $45,000 (£34,000) or rent one for $2,000 each month. Mr. Kobi believes that the traditionally resistant pub and bar industry will increasingly turn to such technologies to “wow” clients and separate from the pack. “Companies realize they need to do things differently than others to attract individuals,” he says. “That is something that technology and innovation can do.” Cecilia. AI is also targeting hotels, airports, stadia, casinos, and cruise ships with the technology. Proponents of bartending robots also point out that they can help bars become more efficient, which improves their bottom line.
“The major concern when you have a venue is ongoing workforce problems,” Alan Adojaan explains. He is the CEO of Yanu, an Estonian startup that recently debuted a competing bartending robot. “There is always a labor shortage. You must train them, but they will eventually leave. There is a lot of staff turnover.” He claims that robot bartenders can assist address this issue while also stopping other aspects such as the overly generous pouring of measures or offering free drinks to friends, which he claims many venue owners accept as a “given.”
“For example, if someone wants a gin and tonic on a Yanu, you [the bar owner] can specify that the robot pours four centimetres of gin, as well as the precise amount of tonic and lemon juice,” Mr. Adojaan explains. He adds that another advantage of a Yanu (which costs $150,000) is that it can serve drinks faster – and to more people – than human bartenders can. “We’re looking for areas with a high client turnover, such as sporting events, festivals, or nightclubs,” he explains. “The machine is extremely rapid, capable of producing 100 drinks each hour at the rate of three and a half bartenders. It has a capacity of 1,200 drinks.”
Furthermore, bartending robots can provide 24-hour service in locations where doing so with a human bartender would be prohibitively expensive and impractical.
“Consider a hotel lobby or an airport that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For such venues, you’d need to engage three shifts of people, which would be pretty costly “According to Mr. Adojaan. “So, for the most part, that will be our playing fields.” At the Estonian pavilion at the World Expo event in Dubai, one Yanu robot is making alcohol-free cocktails. Like that of other industries, the emergence of bartending robotics is likely to create concerns about job losses.
According to Emanuele Rossetti, CEO of Italian robot bartender producer Makr Shakr, while some bartenders will lose their employment, the goal is that they will be able to find alternate work in the wider hospitality sector. To assist affected human bar personnel in doing so, it launched a project in the United States in 2019 in which it will provide a bartender or waitress $1,000 (£747) for each sale of one of its units to help them retrain. Toni and Bruno, two robot models, designed by Mark Shakr, have been put on nine Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Prices start at 99,000 euros ($114,000; £85,000).
However, while some robotics experts believe the technology will become more common, others in the hospitality industry believe human bartenders should not be concerned. “Robots will not replace traditional [human-staffed] bars,” says Jan Hiersemenzel, marketing director at Swiss firm F&P Robotics, developing the Barney Bar robot bar server. “Instead, standalone robot bars are being set up at entertainment and hospitality facilities, or at events where a regular bar would not have been set up.”
JD Wetherspoon, a UK pub business, is not interested in purchasing a fleet of robots to operate behind its bars. “In a nutshell, no,” says a spokeswoman for the company. “Wetherspoons would never do something like this.” Nonetheless, Yanu’s Mr. Adojaan is optimistic about potential sales to conventional establishments, particularly nightclubs.
“First and foremost, having a conversation with a bartender is a Hollywood cliché, at least here in Europe,” he explains. “And you don’t have a debate at a nightclub. You yell at the bartender to hurry up and fetch your drink.”
He says that the bartenders frequently have the arduous chore of dealing with “obnoxious inebriated clients.” “As with other vocations that aren’t pleasurable or artistic on a daily basis,” he continues, “they’ll be replaced by robots.” And, for consumers who like to converse with their bartender or waitress, Mr. Adojaan claims that the robots would gradually develop more human-like characteristics. “We’re attempting to design something that can hold a conversation, crack a joke, ask whether you liked your drink, or recommend another,” he explains. “The most intriguing aspect of the project is the endeavor to make it [look] alive, or to give it character.”
Ken is a Quantitative Trader with experience in investments, quantitative finance, financial modelling and algorithmic trading in Global Investable Markets (GIM). He enjoys using Bayesian Statistics, Time Series and Machine Learning in developing Robust consistent Alphas in Equities Market, FX, ETPs and Derivatives instruments. He enjoys deep dives in understanding High Frequency Trading infrastructures and improving how the African financial markets work. He holds a Bachelor's in Actuarial Science from Strathmore Institute of Mathematical Sciences : An Executive Program in Algorithmic Trading (EPAT) certificate in Algo Trading from QuantInsti : A current MSc student in Financial Engineering at World Quant University.