Makr Shakr Robot Bartender Goes on a Cruise

People rich enough to go on a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship should expect to be treated like royals, and as of late, the Makr Shakr robot bartender is part of the treatment.

Bartender robots that can be controlled with a smartphone app are not exactly a novelty, even though you don’t get to see them everyday, either. However, not many of these helpful robots get to go on a cruise. This sets MIT Senseable City Lab’s Makr Shakr robot bartender apart from the rest of the crowd. Last year, it was showcased at the Google I/O conference, and this November, it will set sail aboard the Quantum of the Seas.

Mind you, the Makr Shakr bartending robot is only one of the geeky things found on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. One of the things this Norwegian cruise line brand prides in having is more Internet bandwidth than all the rest of the cruise ships in the world combined. Other crazy details include virtual balconies in each cabin, a virtual concierge, and RFID for everything.

Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT Senseable City Lab, pointed out that “Makr Shakr is a great example of how digital technologies are changing the interaction between people and products—a topic that our laboratory has been exploring in great depth.” The makers of the robot emphasized that the robot won’t replace humans entirely, and that it’s more of a social experiment.

The fact that Makr Shakr can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet from (I assume) anywhere on the ship will mean that the robot won’t get any rest. Roberto Bolle, principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater, along with Italian director and choreographer Marco Pelle were involved in the development of this bartender robot, as its moves are programmed from the filmed moves of these artists.

Dutch artist and architect Constant Nieuwenhuys gets quoted in the promotional video for the Makr Shakr robot: “In the worldwide city of the future…a society of total automation, the need to work is replaced by a nomadic life of creative play, a modern return to Eden. The ‘homo ludens’, whom man will become once freed from labor will not have to make art, for he can be creative in the practice of his daily life.”

Here’s a crazy thing, though: a couple of innocent typos could turn this robot bartender into Mark Shark, which is something no one would ever want to see while on a cruise in the Caribbean.

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