Thursday, May 08, 2008

Article in June 2008 Servo Magazine by Simone Davalos - Preview

Simone Davalos who built one of the award winning cocktail-robots at Roboex07ica, wrote an article for Servo magazine to appear June 2008, of which I present you an exclusive preview:
"[...] Participants from around the world brought their machines to vie for the top awards, which go to the robots that best fulfill the stringent and exacting standards of the judging categories: Serving, Mixing, Conversation, Fire and Smoke, and Special Achievements. Other sub categories this year included Persistence, Environmental, Most Welcome Off-Topic entry, and Best Swiss Entry, about which more later on.
The Freiraum machine gallery space at the Museumsquartier in Vienna was crowded with old favorites and some promising up-and-comers. David Calkins, founder of RoboGames, showed up for his third RoboExotica with Chapek, the snarky arm-swinging bartender bot with glowing red eyes. Chapek razzed the crowd and made vodka or gin martinis as well as inappropriate comments to young women. Chapek ended up taking home the Cocktail Robot Award for the Conversation category at the Annual Cocktail Robot Awards, which took place the last night of the festival.
Robert Martin brought back RoboMoji, a popular machine and four year veteran of the contest. RoboMoji makes mojitos with a chain-drive conveyor belt, mechanically actuated lime squeezer and mint muddler, and automatic shot pourers. The drinks are tasty, but take a bit of patience while the machine does its thing. Robomoji's parts are handmade out of aluminum for an industrial effect with a sugar-coated ending. Watching the process is fascinating when it's running flawlessly, and even more fascinating when the machine breaks down and the creators swarm over it to find the problem (rule one of robotics, especially cocktail robotics: robots break). For this reason, RoboMoji was awarded Honorable mention in the category of Patience.
Chris Veigl's Mind Reading martini maker, the winner of the Mixing category, collected EEG scans of the drinker's brain to determine how strong a drink the drinker is to receive. The more relaxed alpha waves the machine can detect, the stronger the drink. Since everyone there had been previously relaxed by other offerings, great amounts of gin and vodka flowed from the generous mindreader.
RoboExotica 2007 was not without its other mishaps. The winner of the Fire and Smoke category, El Espanol Borracho, offered up a stunning display when the flamethrower got stuck in the 'on' position and lit both its creator and the floor on fire. Luckily there were no injuries, as bystanders were laughing too hard to douse the flames effectually.
When it was repaired, ESB made excellent Spanish Coffees. With a press of ESB's Big Red Button, Kahlua and sweetened coffee mixture were poured into a rocks glass, and a small shot of the Austrian liqueur Stroh 80 was floated over top. Many would-be drinkers were warned away from grabbing their drink prematurely, as the final touch is a three second burst of butane/propane flame to add “flavor”.

And apropos - the publishers of Servo were among the judges for the bartending bots at Robogames 2006 ... and apparently fancied Chris Veigl's Cockbot One.

Simone - thanks for this entertaining and informative write-up!

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