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Willow Garage Robot Fetches Beer, Engineers Rejoice

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the the-perfect-robot dept.

Robotics 114

kkleiner writes "Willow Garage has pulled off the ultimate engineering feat: teaching a PR2 robot to fetch you a beer from the fridge. Not only can the PR2 select the correct brew from the fridge, it can deliver, and even open the beer as needed. That's right, all the humans have to do is drink and relax. Prepare yourself for some major robot-envy as you check out the PR2 delivering much-needed refreshment in the video."

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114 comments

market crash (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32833952)

Stock in females is going to take a dive

Re:market crash (2, Insightful)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834328)

I don't think the human body can process enough beer to make that robot appear to morph into a sexually attractive mate.

but injection molding can (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#32837926)

I don't think the human body can process enough beer to make that robot appear to morph into a sexually attractive mate.

Well, yes, but they do wonders with injection molding these days so you don't have to (go into an alcoholic coma;)) Have you seen a Real Doll? (Probably not safe for work.) I'm sure they can make the robot fit inside one of those and walk upright with several kilos worth of silicone boobs tacked on the front, and then injection-mold the rest of the doll around it.

Sure, it might lack much facial expressions and such, but then again she probably won't file her nails during the act and ask if you're finished either. So, you gotta take the good with the bad. Plus, we're on Slashdot. Some of us couldn't tell body language if it came and kicked us in the nuts. (Oh yeah, it must mean she likes me;)) So no big loss.

Plus, think positively. You'll probably be able to customize it to your taste, rather than take whatever face or body shape you happen to be compatible with otherwise. (I.e., doesn't charge an arm and a leg;))

Still, I'm not much into beer myself. If they could make one that plays a healer on WoW or COH well, though, now that's gonna be true love ;)

Greatest achievement (3, Insightful)

Myji Humoz (1535565) | more than 3 years ago | (#32833956)

... of the 21st century.

Re:Greatest achievement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834148)

Anyone else misread the title and summary with the word bear?
I was wondering why anyone would keep a bear in their fridge...

Re:Greatest achievement (3, Funny)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834376)

Agreed.
Sliced bread, step the fuck aside.

Re:Greatest achievement (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#32835268)

The Next Grand Step is peeing for you. All that beer will make you have to go.

Re:Greatest achievement (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#32835326)

The Next Grand Step is peeing for you.

"I used to be a dude, but I accidentally switched R2 to Dalek mode."

Re:Greatest achievement (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#32836878)

Nah, that wouldn't make sense...

Bringing the toilet to you on the other hand...recepticle opens, business is done, robot moves off to central waste processing unit, empties and then cleans itself.

Re:Greatest achievement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32835430)

He said 21st century.

Sliced bread was made in the 20th.

Although, I've gotta say this is setting the bar low for the next 90 years if this is the greatest. What about the robots that can not only get you beer but also chicken?

Re:Greatest achievement (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 3 years ago | (#32840066)

Wouldn't it be better to just have the robot store the beer inside of it? Basically a remote controlled beer dispenser. Add a porta potty function with wireless to order beer online and you would never have to leave your couch again.

Re:Greatest achievement (1)

PGGreens (1699764) | more than 3 years ago | (#32835378)

taking 5 minutes to pull a beer bottle out of a refrigerator? (I assume the big X5 in the corner indicated the increase in playback speed) Well, at least we have 90 years to top that.

Re:Greatest achievement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32835578)

5 minutes? No worries. At least you can do other sh*t in the meantime, like reading Slashdot.

Re:Greatest achievement (1)

nj_peeps (1780942) | more than 3 years ago | (#32838402)

That's going to be one hell of an electric bill with the refrigerator door being open for so long.

Makes me mist up a little (4, Funny)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 3 years ago | (#32833992)

It is things like this that make me feel there is hope for humanity, and that we're not in an unstoppable downward spiral.

Re:Makes me mist up a little (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 3 years ago | (#32835532)

Obligatory scene of Bender going back in time and teaching PR2 to reply "Bite my shiny metal ass" when you ask for a beer.

Heck... (3, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#32833994)

A cooler filled with beer sitting next to your chair is cheaper, faster, and doesn't require a specialized, dedicated refrigerator. And think of all the beer you could buy for the price of one robot (and if the robot were really cool, like Bender, he'd drink all your beer before he could deliver it).

Re:Heck... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834080)

If you think this is really about getting beer then you're a moron. The fact it gets beer is just a side benefit of making something really fun and cool.

Re:Heck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32836248)

But also look what this means for people who want to remain independent (eg seniors, handicapped, and NEET's), have one of these, and then you can dispense with the maid/nurse/mommy

Re:Heck... (2, Informative)

nbauman (624611) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834178)

Their *other* project is a robot capable of cleaning up after a party. That could be even more practical.

Re:Heck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834714)

That was the original plan, however that was before the robot drank a case of malt liquor.

Re:Heck... (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#32835050)

And that made it work harder, after all the malt liquor is just fuel for our robotic overlords.

They still need us.

Re:Heck... (1)

dwywit (1109409) | more than 3 years ago | (#32835246)

Perhaps - but what do you put in a cooler to chill the beer? Ice. And how do you get the ice? By using the freezer compartment in a refrigerator. Of course, if you don't want to use a refrigerator for your ice, you could always hop in the car, drive to a shop, and buy some ice. Sorta defeats the purpose of not having to get off yo lazy fat ass, though.

Re:Heck... (1)

f3rret (1776822) | more than 3 years ago | (#32837426)

A cooler filled with beer sitting next to your chair is cheaper, faster, and doesn't require a specialized, dedicated refrigerator. And think of all the beer you could buy for the price of one robot (and if the robot were really cool, like Bender, he'd drink all your beer before he could deliver it).

Do you want me to get off your lawn?

Takes me back to the first Moon landing (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834004)

We really do live in a golden age, (sniff)

my girlfriend does it better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834076)

my girlfriend does it better and she has big boobs

Re:my girlfriend does it better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834252)

stop trolling
by now, we all know that no one here has one

Re:my girlfriend does it better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834256)

Yeah and she gives great blowjobs too!

Re:my girlfriend does it better (2, Funny)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834500)

Let me guess, she lives out of town and can never make it to any parties cause she is working late.

Re:my girlfriend does it better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834574)

who told you

Sure it's fine until (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834146)

Everything is fine until the robot starts getting uppity. "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that"

Quote at bottom of the page: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834154)

"Man who sleep in beer keg wake up sticky."

Narf narf narf.

Melonee Wise or Caroline Pantofaru? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834172)

big one or little one?

Room for improvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834206)

It needs bigger boobs and bare feet.

a web interface? (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834214)

Why a web interface? seriously...

Re:a web interface? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834282)

Why a web interface? seriously...

The web interface allows you to order beer from any web enabled device, such as a smart phone!

Re:a web interface? (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834934)

If you are near a robot, a fridge with free beer, and have a phone.

I get it, the research is fun, but beer + robot is not as awesome as publishing how you did that. In the long term, it's all practical. In the short term, who the fuck cares?

Re:a web interface? (1)

haxney (1769366) | more than 3 years ago | (#32838288)

Why a web interface? seriously...

The web interface allows you to order beer from any web enabled device, such as a smart phone!

Or a car!

Re:a web interface? (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834374)

Why a web interface? seriously...

As to an OS specific interface? What would you prefer? A web interface makes cross-platform accessibility a lot simpler. Or am I missing your implication?

Re:a web interface? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#32835122)

I would much rather be able to say "Robot, go get me a fucking pint of Guinness" and have someone else quip up "Get me a Zima!" and the robot knows who ordered what by voice recognition.

Too lazy to type, much easier to speak.

Re:a web interface? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32838476)

Unable to comply for a Zima, as they are no-longer made.

Re:a web interface? (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#32838922)

The thing might come back and report that there is currently no Guinness in the fridge that is procreating.

Re:a web interface? (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#32836328)

An LCD panel on the robot with a touch screen interface? Or maybe voice recognition is the way forward:
"Hey metal man, get me a Trans Galactic Gargle-Blaster!"
"Here I am, brain the size of a planet and it's 'Get me a drink!'. You know I have a pain in the all the diodes down my left side, don't you?"

"R2, get me an apple-tini!"
"bleep-bloop wheee, bleep"
"What? Just get me the damn drink!"

Actually, that may be asking for trouble..anyway...insisting on a web interface requires that the network is up. What kind of requirement is that for a metal man-servant?

Re:a web interface? (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834408)

Because after a few beers no one has the capacity or the patience to use a telnet interface with an 8 point font.

Re:a web interface? (1)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834636)

I'm sure they could program voice control, but it's probably not as high a priority on their to-do list as the "Have robot get beer" part.

As for the web interface, why not? My phone handles the web just fine, and I don't carry around a remote control. If it were voice controlled, you'd still want to have a way to control it when it's out of hearing range, the web/phone would still be the most convenient.

Henry Kuttner would be proud (1)

lowlypeon (232191) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834422)

Anybody else ever read the book "Robots have no Tails" written over 50 years ago by Henry Kuttner and his wife?

I remember thinking it was fall-over funny as a teenager at least-- one of the stories in the book revolved around an inventor who created the world's most intelligent and capable robot. Unfortunately he created it while he was on a drunken bender and had no idea what purpose he had intended for the robot now that he was sober. In the end he finds that he had created the perfect robot so it could fetch and open beers for him.

It's really really slow, though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834478)

I'm taking the little "6x" in the corner of the video when the robot is taking the beer to be time scale. The thing takes 15 seconds to open the door, and another minute to grab 2 beers while the door is wide open. Awesome work, but I'm sure this could be done better.

Re:It's really really slow, though (1)

Faerunner (1077423) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834542)

It took that long to fold the laundry, too. I think the problem lies in the inability of the robot to process 'visual' input (ie, the door handle, the beer bottles) and respond at the pace of a human brain. It has to be programmed to recognize these things, and the programming has limitations. With a little more work, I expect they'll get it down to a much faster response time. At this point, the fact that it does it at all is kickass!

Re:It's really really slow, though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32835614)

Aye. If it's fetching beer, I don't care if it's 5 minutes. That gives me plenty of time to scratch my ass first. Anything longer would leave me with a sore ass though.

Huzzah! (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 3 years ago | (#32834494)

This is indeed news of the highest importance, and a technological feat worthy of major consideration in the scientific community! I've got a Moderator Point. Now if I only had a Nobel Prize vote...

We know how to clone, and now we have this ... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32834930)

And as soon as a robot which can give a great blowjob appears,
women will be obsolete.

Some of us think they already are, at least the American flavor,
because we are tired of spoiled cunts with a sense of entitlement
that would choke the fucking Pope. That's right, American chicks,
I'm looking at YOU.

Beer geeks say, "not good enough" (1)

Kargan (250092) | more than 3 years ago | (#32835564)

Until it can deliver the beer at the optimum serving temperature for the style, remove a cork & cage, choose the right type of glass and pour it leaving the sediment in the bottom of the bottle (if there is any), not interested.

Re:Beer geeks say, "not good enough" (1)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 3 years ago | (#32839202)

That was my first thought too. God damn beer snobs....

Sure, it can fetch and open standard, mass-produced beers, but never mind good beers, optimum serving temperature or correct glasses - this thing can't even pour a beer into a glass in the first place!

Why would I want a robot that can't even pour beer? That's the second most important part, after drinking it. And it doesn't look like it can use a growler either....

Good but... 5 minutes to get a beer? (2, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#32835666)

I like the robot idea, but it's a bit slow: At 1:40 it shows the robot fetching a beer in 1 minute, but it's sped up 5x, so it really took 5 minutes to get one beer [youtube.com].

5 minutes to get me a beer? Think I'll just get a dog. [youtube.com]

why sped up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32835776)

Wonder why they felt it necessary to speed up the video of the robot interacting with the fridge?

Sure, the robot takes five minutes to get a beer.. (1)

The Brother Grim (1851070) | more than 3 years ago | (#32835936)

...but so do dogs that are trained to do the same thing. But unlike a dog, a robot won't chew your shoes, defecate in the yard, or lack opposable digits to pop the top on a beer bottle. Still, that entire issue of looking for a charging port in the middle of the night kind of bothers me.

Re:Sure, the robot takes five minutes to get a bee (1)

willworkforbeer (924558) | more than 3 years ago | (#32837902)

Shew chewing & outdoor defecation? Those specs are not due until Beerbot 2.0 a/k/a "FratBot" (backwards hat compatible)

Declining value of human labor & what to do... (2, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#32836006)

For possibilities on restructuring our economy to deal with the decining valued of human labor from similiar innovations, starting from Marshall Brain's ideas and including many other people's suggestions, see this section of a knol I organized on moving beyond the jobless recovery resulting from structural unemployment (due to automation, robotics, better design, voluntary social networks, and limited demand due to "reduce, reuse, recycle" and the law of diminishing returns etc.): http://knol.google.com/k/paul-d-fernhout/beyond-a-jobless-recovery/38e2u3s23jer/2#Four_long(2D)term_heterodox_alternatives [google.com]

Believers in mainstream economic theology saw fit to delete most of that content from Wikipedia in part on the grounds that Marshall Brain's and other people's points on the declining value of most human labor is just "speculation" and science fiction. Our scarcity-based economics is more and more out-of-sync with our social and technical realities of potential abundance, but it is apparently heresy to talk about it, and the most people will usually do is talk about ways to make "artificial scarcity" to keep the system working via "business as usual".

I've been thinking about the social aspects of advanced robotics on and off for a quarter century since I spent a year hanging out in Hans Moravec's Mobile Robot Lab (and Red Whittaker's FRL) around 1985 (when Hans was working on the book "Mind Children"). I applied to Willow Garage a couple months ago to get these robots to pick up toys, sort LEGO, etc. (be nice to have them do food prep, too, for improved human health) but they were not interested. :-( Though I was looking for something where I could work from home on the East Coast, so that may have been part of it, since what (human) homeschooling family guy can afford to buy a house with room for a human child near Stanford? :-) I'm also not blaming them, since they probably have their pick of applicants, and I have not worked professionally with robots in two decades, and I have spent a lot of the past decade doing stay-at-home Dad stuff. I'm not sure *I'd* even hire me at this point to do anything technical. :-) Still, with the Stanford area being as pricey as it is, Willow Garage is probably mostly left with rich people or young people building these mind children, which is why you see this video of a robot fetching a beer and not, say, putting away toys, preparing a nutritious soup for the family from whole foods, or being a good playmate for a human child (like Robbie in Asimov's story about a robot nanny and playmate). I can hope that those sorts of things will come sooner rather than later.

Working with a PR2 might have been a lot of fun, but in any case I had also hoped applying might get the people (and maybe eventually robots :-) at Willow Garage to at least read my writings like the above about socio-economic apsects of this work. Creating technology like this without at the same time promoting social change as outlined above (to a gift economy, a basic income, local subsistence, and/or a resource-based economy) is otherwise just asking for massive social unrest and suffering, like Marshall Brain talks about in his short story "Manna". Willow Garage is getting everything else right (like a FOSS focus and as in this video obvious technical excellence) -- except it may be missing talking about that economic transition big picture part needed to make robots like this a blessing and not a curse. So, in that sense, Willow Garage may dangerously lack a coherent vision (even if it makes amazing technology)? I don't know -- they may be clued in and not talking about it, but is does not seem to be reflected on the web site, with nothing directly relevant for these searches:
    http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=site%3Awww.willowgarage.com+economics [google.com]
    http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=site%3Awww.willowgarage.com+employment [google.com]
    http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=site%3Awww.willowgarage.com+ [google.com]"basic+income"
James P. Hogan's "Voyage from Yesteryear" is another good read related to theses issues and the difficulties of economic phase changes from the tools of abundance being wielded by those still thinking in terms of scarcity.

Anyway, I'd suggest Willow Garage put at least some small fraction of its resources into fostering wide-ranging dicussions about the kind of social changes implied when the economic value of most human labor is greatly reduced, and do this sooner rather than later. The knol link above could be one starting point for those sorts of discussions.

you'll get your beer, but it won't be cold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32837066)

it takes 5:30 sec JUST to get the beer out of the fridge...by then its not cold anymore....I could have opened it and downed the fucker myself in that time

FAIL (1)

yargnad (1456405) | more than 3 years ago | (#32838780)

Why cant it drink the beer for me too, and metabolize it BTW? Shit I need mo bots to fill in every wasted second of time that I spend doing things myself. I didn't really want these legs to begin with.
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