Robot Wars judge: ‘Bots will serve pints soon’

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Jetsons' idea of the future didn't pan out
The Jetsons' idea of the future didn't pan out
Robots will pull and serve pints behind UK bars sooner than operators think, according to Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at Sheffield University.

Drones are already serving drinks in Singapore's bars, according to the professor.

Sharkey made his predictions on the return of BBC programme Robot Wars​ last night (24 July), which is a competition where robots fight to the death.

Engineers were on the cusp of a “robotics revolution”, he said and added that new technology was making machines lighter and more powerful.

Advances in technology meant it was very likely robots would be used in pubs to serve drinks, said Sharkey.

“Singapore have drones that work on their own. You tap [on a control panel] on what you want to drink at the table and a drone comes out with a tray on the top and delivers your cocktail,” he added.

Next members of the team

Manufacturers such as Honda have already tipped bots as the next members​ of bar teams across the world.

In 2014 the technology giant and car manufacturer launched its Asimo series of ‘humanoid’ robots in Brussels.

The robots are able to pick up bottles, twist off their caps and hold vessels ready for liquids to be poured into them.

However, critics believe punters would prefer to have their drinks served​ by humans.

Data released from the University of Oxford last year suggested the on-trade was the least likely sector to be automated.

0.4% chance of being automated

Academics suggested licensed premises managers had a 0.4% chance of being automated.

The results were calculated through analysing the key skills needed to perform a particular job, such as social perceptiveness, negotiation, persuasion, assisting and caring for others.

Associate professor in machine learning at Oxford University, Michael Osborne, said: “For publicans I would suspect that the low probability of automation is due to their requirements for social intelligence that was deemed relatively non-automatable.

“To interact with other people you need to draw upon these reservoirs of tacit knowledge we have about the culture and society in which we find ourselves and that’s very difficult to explicitly programme into an algorithm.”

However, chefs were more likely to lose their jobs to robots at a 37% chance. Chefs’ jobs were more routine and they didn’t need to social skills of a bar tender, Osborne added.

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