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The Autonomous Cafe

INNOVATIONThe Autonomous Café

PHOTOS
AVOCADO STUDIO, SCATTO TORINO, MARCO BECK PECCOZ, CARLO RATTI ASSOCIATI
WORDS
VERENA DAUERER

4 minute read

Conceived by Italian company Makr Shakr, Guido is a self-driving vehicle concept featuring two robot mixologists, coming to your neighborhood in the near future.

Guido - an autonomous vehicle concept equipped with two cocktail and juice mixing robots.

Cavalli club dubai avocado studio

Cavalli Club Dubai, Avocado Studio

At some point in the future, autonomous cars are expected to bring people together. Now this hoped-for future may arrive as early as 2022. Hyundai Motor Group is working with technology company Aptiv on an autonomous driving platform that should deliver totally automated cars in a little over a year. It will be available for robotaxi providers, fleet operators, and automotive manufacturers. Both companies will design and develop technologies for Level 4 and 5 autonomous driving, and will bring it to commercialization. Thanks to Hyundai, Guido - an autonomous vehicle concept equipped with two cocktail and juice mixing robots - may be on the streets and attracting the crowds by 2022.

The vision

A self-driving café arrives in your neighborhood, putting people in a party mood. Wielding two bionic arms,the all-in-one solution can create any number of mixed drinks and juices from a total of 158 bottles stored in a grid on the vehicle’s ceiling. Guido is the brainchild of Italian design company Carlo Ratti Associati, founded by MIT wizard Carlo Ratti. Together with Makr Shakr, a Turin-based spin-off,they’re already producing mobile robot cafés and driving genuine social innovation.

Italian Emanuele Rossetti, a mechanical engineer with a Ph.D. in Robotics, is CEO of Makr Shakr. He tells us all about funky robot mixologists on wheels.

Cavalli Club Dubai, Avocado Studio

Cavalli Club Dubai, Avocado Studio

Mr.Rosetti, how did it all start?

Four years ago, Carlo Ratti was asked to produce something for Google IO in San Francisco, one of the biggest digital events worldwide. He decided to do something special – a robot cocktail shaker for one-off events. So, we set up a company to create something unique. And that’s how we built the first Makr Shakr robot. Later, we decided to turn this concept into a commercial product. We brought everything in-house – not just engineering, but also production – at our factory in Turin. Now we have 15 machines working around the world and the number’s growing.

Emanuele Rossetti, Scatto Torino

Emanuele Rossetti, Scatto Torino

So although your autonomous vehicle is only a concept at the moment, you’ve already developed the robot mixing part?

We have three products. Toni is a robotic bartender; Bruno is a mobile unit with built-in robots – you hook it up to a car and drive to an event. And Guido is our concept for a self-driving unit. As far as the robot part is concerned, we’re ready for market. With respect to the self-driving part – well, we’re counting on Hyundai to develop the necessary systems. We need an autonomous vehicle to host our bar, and we need new legislation for autonomous vehicles.

Hyundai and Aptiv: The future of autonomous mobility

A new joint venture is driving forward the development of autonomous vehicles. Hyundai Motor Group and vehicle technology provider Aptiv are working together on production-ready autonomous driving systems. With Hyundai's engineering and R&D capabilities and Aptiv's development of advanced driver assistance systems, vehicle connectivity solutions, and Smart Vehicle Architecture self-driving cars are getting closer to the street. This year the joint venture will start testing fully driverless systems, in 2022 an autonomous driving platform will be ready for the market.

Robot
Robot order cocktail

Where are your 15 robots shaking and stirring right now?

They’re at Selfridges in London, for example. They’re permanently based at the Hardrock Hotel in Biloxi, in Las Vegas, in Prague’s club Karlovy Lazne (the biggest club in Central Europe), and they’re also on board seven of the biggest cruise ships in the world, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises. We’ve just installed the first mixing robot in the Gulf Region in Dubai’s Cavalli Club. Furthermore, we have our flagship bar in Milano’s Piazza del Duomo, “The View by Makr Shakr Rooftop”.

Robot create cocktail

I’d like a mixed drink - how do I actually order one from your café?

You use a smartphone app to place your order and choose your preferred cocktail. Or you become your own bartender and decide on ingredients, alcohol or juices for yourself. The robot café is equipped with a lemon and lime cutter, a sugar dispenser, a shaker, and an ice crusher. When creating our menu, we picked recipes created by famous bartenders and mixologists. Our robots create exact replicas of these cocktails – the quality is perfect.

The smooth movements of the bionic robot arms are based on dance movements, isn’t that right?

Indeed – we drew inspiration from the moves of Italian choreographer Marco Pelle, famous choreographer at the New York Theatre Ballet. We filmed Pelle’s movements when he was dancing and while he was pretending to make cocktails. Then we transformed the data into math, so we could programme our robots to move with the same elegance. We didn’t want the precise, high-speed movements of industrial robots – we didn’t want them to look as if they were welding cars!

Carlo Ratti Associati GUIDO, Aerial

Carlo Ratti Associati GUIDO, Aerial

Guido arrives and you can have a party, no matter where you are.

Carlo Ratti Associati GUIDO, In the city

Carlo Ratti Associati GUIDO, In the city

Could you explain this in a little more detail?

Well, city centers usually have plenty of entertaining places for young people to go. But on the edge of town,there are fewer opportunities for organizing spontaneous events. Our idea is to bring the event right into your neighborhood. Guido arrives and you can have a party, no matter where you are. People will flock to your neighborhood from all over the world.

Until your autonomous café is street - legal, what’s next for Makr Sharkr?

Starting in spring 2020, our robots will also make coffee and all kinds of other coffee-based drinks – coffee with milk, cappuccinos, frappuccinos, chocolate, and so on. Our robots will be used for morning and lunchtime events. Our R&D department is already working on prototypes. What’s more, we’re developing a new robot concept – mobile burger-making bots! Imagine using this system to order hamburgers. Guests could use the app to fine-tune every aspect of their burger – how they want their patties grilled, for example.

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