Carl the robot bartender serves customers at German bar

[From the Daily Mail, where the story includes many more images]

Carl, robot bartender

Vorsprung durch tech drink! Carl the robot bartender serves customers at German bar

The humanoid robot measures out spirits at the Robots Bar and Lounge

Nine customers can take a seat at the bar in Ilmenau, eastern Germany

27 July 2013

He’s handy with a shot glass and customers travel from far and wide to admire him at work.

The only strange thing about Carl the bartender is that he’s not quite human.

The humanoid robot mixes drinks for guests at the Robots Bar and Lounge in Ilmenau, eastern Germany.

The robot is the creation of mechatronics engineer Ben Schaefer, who has spent 23 years working in the field.

He built Carl from the parts of disused industrial robots from the German firm KUKA.

His newest employee helps out his human colleagues by pouring out measures of spirits and adding them to cocktail shakers for mixing.

He can also conduct short conversations with the customers who take up the bar’s nine seats, though they probably don’t sparkle like the drinks because his speech recognition skills and ability to interact are, for the moment, limited.

To make sure the robot does not crash in the small area behind the bar, Carl wears a belt with sensors.

The belt helps Carl stay upright instead of spilling drinks everywhere and protects his human counterparts.

Another room in the bar, described as a place to encounter technology and future visions, contains a life-size model of a Nasa astronaut.

Writing on the bar’s website, Mr Schaefer said his company aims to make humanity in humanoid robots closer to reality and show that ‘scenes as in science fiction films are quite possible’.

Humanoid robots tend to have limbs and a torso to resemble the human body, while artificial intelligence tries to replicate the way the mind works.

By putting Carl in a real-life scenario, it was easier to test the programming and make improvements than it would be in a laboratory.

‘On this system, you can let your imagination run wild, because each step makes our robot a bit more human,’ Mr Shaefer writes.

For now, Carl will be part-tourist attraction and part test-dummy while Mr Schaefer and his team work out how to shake humanoid robotics out of its ‘stagnant’ state.

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