Researchers from Bielefeld, Crete, Munich and Edinburgh are developing a bartending robot that can identify who are waiting to be served at a bar by looking at subtle gestures and posture.
The bartending robot, called James after the project name (Joint Action in Multimodal Embodied Systems or JAMES), consists of a tablet computer for a head and a one-armed metal body. The tablet displays large cartoon-like eyes that can make eye contact with customers and a mouth that moves in sync with its speech.
To enable James to determine which customers are waiting to be served drinks, a group of researchers at Bielefeld University conducted a study on how orders are placed at bars. They placed cameras in bars and noted how customers ordered their drinks amidst dim lighting, loud noise and music. The team analysed the body language of the customers ordering drinks. The results of the study were then programmed into James the robot.
The project hopes to be able to make robots more socially intelligent and respond appropriately to human behavior in real-world situations.
Funded by the EU, the JAMES project started in 2011 and will end January 2014. The project partners are coordinated by the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. The robotic hardware is maintained and programmed by fortiss GmbH in Munich, Germany. The other project partners include Heriot-Watt University in the United Kingdom and the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas in Greece.
The video below shows the first demo of JAMES the robot bartender.