Barney the robo barman gets ready for corona-free cocktail hour - Reuters News Agency

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Barney the robo barman gets ready for corona-free cocktail hour

A Swiss robotics company is seeing rising interest in its latest invention – a fully automated bartender that can mix dozens of cocktails and even make terrible jokes.

The Barney Bar has been developed by F&P Robotics, which hopes it will be a hit among hotels, bars and shopping centres looking to reduce human contact during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

Barney can mix 16 different spirits and eight different sodas for customers who place their orders via their mobile phones, as well as offering beer and prosecco. The robot, who can disinfect his own robotic arm, tells them their drink is ready via a large video display above the bar.

A barista version making different coffees has also been developed. All the versions can be loaded up with conversations, so Barney can make “jokes” about being offered a role in the latest Terminator film, for example.

“We are getting quite a bit of interest,” Chief Sales Officer Gery Colombo told Reuters. “We think Barney can be a fun attraction, that can bring people to a bar because he’s constantly moving and is so different.”

Although the expected clientele, restaurants and hotels, were initially not in spending mood because of the COVID-19 crisis, the situation is slowly changing, Colombo said.

The Zurich company, which makes the robot and its operating software, has so far sold robots to China and Oman, where a mocktail-making robot works in a shopping mall. Each model costs around 120,000 Swiss francs.

Other companies are also working on robot bartenders, but will they eventually replace the human bartender?

“We can’t say what the gastronomy industry will look like in a few years, but we are convinced robotics will play a part,” said Colombo.

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