As you may have noticed (or perhaps not given the abysmal ratings), the 2022 Winter Olympics are happening right now in Beijing. The Olympics are, at their core, a celebration of human potential. People from around the globe spending the entirety of their lives honing their craft to jump farther, race down snowy peaks faster, complete more rotations while catapulting themselves into the air, and get weirdly accurate at sliding and sweeping a circular rock along a sheet of ice.
But apparently the Olympic Committee doesn’t quite respect the same triumph of the human spirit when it comes to making coffee.
As reported by The Independent, an “automatic barista” is slinging coffee at the Taizicheng Railway Station in Zhangjaikou, China, one of the competition zones for this year’s Olympics. The automaton uses two six-axis robotic arms to “manually” “hand-pour” brewed coffee for customers. Using visual recognition technology the robot undertakes every step of the brewing process, from grinding to pouring.
Admittedly, it’s a little cute watching those gangly noodle robot limbs grind coffee on a Mahlkönig EK43 while pouring water into some sort of custom-fitted Fellow Stagg kettle before brewing with a v60. At least the robot has good taste in coffee accoutrements.
Per Give Me Sport, the robots are part of China’s measures to keep COVID from spreading by reducing the amount of physical contact between individuals there to take part in the Olympic viewing festivities. Similar robots are also being used to make cocktails, cook and deliver food to hotel rooms, clean floors, check people’s temperatures, and offer reminders to mask up.
That’s all well and good for robots, but no amalgam of steel and silicon can yet truly capture the human exprerience of having an actual person make your coffee. At least, not for long. Robowatchers are buzzing over a new Boston Robotics advert, set to air at this year’s Super Bowl, in which a robot gets ripping drunk on copious amounts of Samuel Adams beer. The commercial is creepy and not cute, which is something I’m still permitted to say, before the robots take over and the free expression of anti-robot sentiment gets us all marked for deletion.