Bartendro: The Open-Source Cocktail Droid
Screen Cap: Bartendro/Kickstarter
The year is 2013 and we can't help feeling like sometimes the future we were promised simply isn't getting here fast enough. We still have to drive our own cars, personal jetpacks are not readily available, and for as much debate as there is over gun control we can't help noticing that laser pistols are still absent from reality, let alone that discussion.
But take heart! At least someone is trying to deliver on the robotic butler, albeit in a piecemeal fashion. You'll still need a roomba to tidy up your living room but the Bartendro could wire up your booze collection to dispense at the touch of a smart phone button.
The designers of the Bartendro have devised a prototype automated bartender that can dispense mixed drinks within milliliter accuracy. Your whiskey sours will be appropriately sour, cosmos appropriately fruity, and the snozberries will presumably taste like snozberries. Since the actual dispensing is all handled electronically, it's possible to calibrate the precise mixture of your drinks, literally down to the milliliter. The key selling points for the Bartendro is that it will be a good deal cheaper and hackable than currently available pumping systems that are primarily for medical or industrial applications. In fact, since they've vowed to open-source the entire project, from the designs to the code, it could be free if you have to right equipment to fabricate your own parts.
The makers of the Bartendro want your money, of course, and they've started a Kickstarter to make that happen. They've set a $135,000 goal and have managed to raise around $55,000 already. Backers at the $249+ level will receive an actual working system, while less expensive backing levels will yield only parts and plans for the machine. The highest tier of backing, which costs upwards of $1,000 buys you a fully functional seven-drink robot that'll talk to any phone or tablet to mix your favorite drinks.
The one problem with the system so far is that the pumping system they have devised does not handle carbonated beverages very well, although they say this is a "solvable problem" that they intend to trounce in the near future.
Perhaps more intriguingly are all the off-label uses for a computer controlled precision liquid-dispensing system. Their Kickstarter mentions that their machine could conceivably be used for a number of non-alcoholic purposes. From dispensing mundane beverages like coffee and juice to something more exotic like pancake batter or watering your garden. We would suggest you could even hook one up to a Makerbot and print yourself some dinosaur pancakes if you so desired.