Macco Robotics’ Kime robot bartender probably won’t be able to dispense homespun, sage advice like a human, but it can definitely pour you a beer.
Made by Seville, Spain-based Macco Robotics, Kime is a humanoid food and beverage serving robot. Measuring about 2 square meters, the Kime features a robotic head and torso and has two articulating arms that can be used to grab and dispense beverages.
If you’ve ever worked in a bar, you know you can’t just shoot a beer straight into a glass; there is some subtlety to it. The Kime’s hands pull the tap appropriately and angles the glass properly for a correct pour. Macco Robotics CTO, Kish Renganathan, told me by phone this week that the Kime can pour one beer in 23 seconds.
Portugal gas company, Prio, trialed the Kime at one of its gas stations last year. Why you would want to serve up cups of beer to people getting gas and out for a drive is a little beyond me, but hey, Europeans do things a little differently. Renganathan said that for its next phase of testing, Prio is looking to shuttle the one kiosk between different gas stations and have it serve up other beverages like fountain drinks, milkshakes and even grab fresh made food items.
The Kime is also being used by a Spanish beer brand, though Macco actually switched things up a bit for that trial. Instead of being a stationary kiosk, Kime was attached to a cart and used as a rolling robot beer machine for events like festivals.
What’s interesting about the Kime is that the company is sticking with the humanoid form. When it comes to automation, you typically have something like the Cafe X, which also uses articulating arms to add some theatricality as it pours and serves drinks, or you have something that’s more embedded automation like the Briggo, which uses rails and dispensers hidden inside the machine.
Given that the Kime is being used for events and fast service locations like convenience stores, I would assume that embedded automation would deliver the speed and volume necessary to keep up with orders. But Renganathan laid out a bigger vision for me.
“Our vision is to make a humanoid for cooking,” Renganathan said, admitting that swiveling arms might be less efficient. The kiosk, in this case, is a contained environment in which the robot can learn to manipulate different food and drink. “Our goal is to take the robot outside and leave it in the kitchen to assist the chef.”
That’s a pretty big goal. Huge companies like Samsung and Sony don’t even seem to be thinking that big. While their visions of kitchen assistants do feature robotic arms, they are attached to a cabinet, and not to a free-roaming autonomous humanoid.
Right now, Macco is self-funded, and it’ll have to raise a sizeable chunk o’ change to make that vision a reality. Now we’ll have to wait to see if Macco will be raising a glass in celebration of its success, or pouring one out for another food robot demise.