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MIT Technology Review

Boozy bots could serve you up your next cocktail

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At the moment, robotic bartenders are costly—but some startups are aiming to make them competitive with human mixologists.

Automating alcohol: The Tipsy Robot, a Las Vegas bar, has an employee that cost more than $1 million to hire. Its robot bartender, created by Makr Shakr, can sling up to 120 drinks an hour at $12 to $16 a pop. This touristy establishment is the type of setting where cosmos and whiskey sours would be a dime a dozen—if they weren’t so expensive.

But ... Prices are plummeting (for the robots, anyway). Makr Shakr has just released a mass-market version of its drink-serving machine that costs $115,000. And next month, New York–based startup Barsys will release a $2,500 commercial version of a microwave-size robot bartender. The home version is even less—just $1,050.

The jobs question: The creators of these machines don’t see them as supplanting human barkeeps. Rather, they say the technology could change how they work and spend their time. “In most of the bars, the bartender is the biggest crowd puller,” the CEO and founder of Barsys, Akshet Tewari, told the Wall Street Journal. “With Barsys it’s all about increasing the efficiency of a bar.”