Once considered a novelty, robot bartenders are finding a practical purpose.
As businesses cautiously reopen, bars and restaurants are looking for ways to reduce contact between staff and customers.
In South Korea, known for its cafe and bar culture, robo-bartenders are helping address the need for “distancing in daily life.”
In one Seoul bar, a six-foot-tall robot called Cabo carves ice for drinks in a vest and bowtie.
A human bartender mixes the cocktails, but feels that “anxious” customers are reassured by a robot making and serving the ice.
At other bars, the robots even shake up drinks, providing some consistency that a human can’t.
And yet they lack the human qualities that every good bartender offers: the ability to engage in a real conversation. Said one patron, “It’s a little disappointing that you can’t talk to the bartenders.”