Robot Bartenders Shake Things Up At Sea

Behind the scenes of the most advanced cruise ship bars.
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Ever pioneering, Royal Caribbean has made itself stand out in the travel industry with its continual innovation: the mind-bending Ultimate Abyss, the world’s tallest slide at sea; onboard sky-diving and surf simulators; and by employing the world’s first robotic bartenders.

First unveiled on Quantum of the Seas in 2014, four ships—Harmony of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas—now feature the popular Bionic Bar. Manning the bar are two robots; each one has its own name (on Anthem of the Seas, for instance, they’re called “Shaken” and “Stirred,” and onboard Harmony of the Seas are “Mix” and “Mingle”). Engineered in Italy, these special robots can muddle, stir, shake and strain all types of drinks; the cocktail combinations are endless, with 30 spirits and 21 mixers from which to choose.

The robot bartenders can produce two drinks per minute and can make up to 1,000 each day. Guests create an order—whether a custom request or standard menu item—on a specially programmed tablet or with staff. They can keep track of their order on the digital screen next to the bar, and once it’s ready, the bartenders will release their drink with a simple tap of their SeaPass card or WOWband.

Created by Makr Shakr, an Italian robotics company based in Turin, the technology is so complex the bartenders can’t be deployed just anywhere. The system has three components: the robots, the core of the show that everyone can see; the application that drives them; and the aesthetics.

Beyond designing machines that could mix drinks with precision, Makr Shakr wanted grace and harmony to play a central role in how they moved. The company collaborated with famous dancer Marco Pelle, a principal dancer at the New York Theater Ballet, by mapping his movements with a computer, then simulating them so that the robots make human-like movements.

“There’s always a very particular dynamic in which people interact with the system,” says Alessandro Incisa, project manager for Makr Shakr. “And you always have this kind of magical experience when the guest arrives and says, ‘Oh, look at that, there’s a robot on the counter—and it makes drinks!’”

Want to know more facts about this first-at-sea experience? Check out this exclusive video (note: for best viewing, watch in Google Chrome or in the YouTube app on your smartphone).

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