Italian architect Carlo Ratti and his company Makr Shakr have launched a mass-market robotic cocktail maker. Nino is an updated version of Makr Shakr’s existing Bionic Bar, which debuted at Milan design week in 2013 and has since been put into use in cruise liners and hotels.
Nino has the capacity to mix an infinite variety of cocktails from up to 170 bottles of different spirits stored in its overhead rack. Customers can place orders via an accompanying phone app, where they can either pick a recipe created by a professional mixologist, or devise their own concoctions.
“Nino explores the new dynamics of social creation and consumption — ‘design, make and enjoy’ — allowing users to design their own cocktail creations, while digitally controlled machines transform their ideas into reality,” said Ratti, who is a founder of Makr Shakr as well as the head of his own practice, Carlo Ratti Associati and a professor at MIT.
Although Nino might lack the banter of the best human bartenders, Makr Shakr describes the robot as able to “precisely prepare and elegantly serve any drink in seconds”. The system has two robotic arms — one for the complex tasks of shaking, stirring and muddling, and a second for pouring and serving.
While its appearance is similar to industrial robots commonly seen in warehouses, Ratti modelled its “dance-like” movements on humans — and one human in particular, Italian choreographer Marco Pelle. Pelle’s gestures were filmed and used as inputs when programming the robot.
Ratti told Dezeen that Nino is not intended to replace human bartenders; rather, he sees it as an opportunity to teach people how to interact with the machines that will almost certainly be part of their lives in the future.
“We like to think that Nino can help us explore how people might embrace the new possibilities offered by robotics and digital manufacturing,” he said. “Robots are already revolutionising the job market — but few people have seen them in real life, let alone controlled them.”
“We think that this knowledge is the first step to be able to manage technology — and for us is a crucial role of Nino'” he continued. “This is also the reason why we have picked standard industrial arms, instead of camouflaging them under a humanoid appearance.” Nino uses Corian counters and has an illuminated rear wall display that can show information including current orders and queue time.
After its initial prototype was previewed in Milan in May 2013, Makr Shakr 1.0 officially launched at Google’s developer conference later that month. Makr Shakr was spun off into its own company in 2014, and has since installed five units on Royal Caribbean cruise ships, plus one on the Las Vegas strip.
The company says that these units have so far made more than 1 million drinks, sometimes serving as many as 800 cocktails per night. Ratti is one of the key players shaping the future of smart technology. As well as heading up the influential Senseable City Lab at MIT, he was the architect of Office 3.0 in Turin, which has a personalised “environmental bubble” for every worker, and recently revealed a concept smart road system complete with traffic-monitoring drones.