Here’s a headline that should send a chill through the spine of every bartender and server in America: “Bionic bartenders deployed at Las Vegas Strip bar.”
As we reported last week, Cowen analyst Andrew Charles calculated that McDonald’s “Experience of the Future” strategy could allow it to replace 2,500 cashiers with “Big Mac ATMs” by the end of 2017 – and another 3,000 in 2018.
Now, in a hint of what’s to come for the nightlife industry, the Las Vegas Sun reports that the a bar relying solely on robot bartenders – the first of its kind in the US - will open on Friday.
“Tipsy Robot, a 2,500-square-foot bar to open Friday at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, boasts two robotic bartenders ready to make your favorite concoction any way you like.”
The bar is being run by Rino Armeni, the chairman of a company called Robotic Innovations, who said he decided to open the first robot bar in Las Vegas to give the city a leg up on other nightlife hubs like New York City and Miami.
Here’s how it works:
“Customers place their order on one of the dozen tablet stations in the bar or through the Tipsy Robot app on their smartphone. They then pay with cash or credit card and enter their email address.
A QR code (barcode) is sent to the email, which the customer places above various windows available. The barcode is scanned and the drink is entered into the system. Patrons can see where their drink is in the queue and are alerted when their order is up.
Each robot has access to more than 60 kinds of liquor, and drinks can be mixed and poured into a 12-ounce plastic cup within 70 seconds.”
Armeni stressed that the robots are meant to be a novelty, and that he believes Technology that carries out human jobs ultimately won’t replace human servers.
“We have a human bar on the side, and the robotic bar is mostly an attraction and entertainment,” Armeni said, “It’s no different from the fountains at Bellagio and the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign.”
However, if the robots’ performance lives up to the description provided by the Sun – well, let’s just say that bartenders who were hoping to make a good living in Sin City might want to consider a move.
“Ice, lemon, limes and sugars are stored behind the wall of the robots. Juices, sodas and liquors are housed above them.
Aside from perfect pours every time, Armeni said the robots don’t spill and don’t waste any ingredients.
“They work to perfection, so everything the robots make is perfect,” he said.
Tipsy Robot’s location at the entrance of the Miracle Mile Shops on Las Vegas Boulevard was chosen because of its heavy foot traffic, Armeni said.
“We wanted to find a place where there was a lot of people coming through,” Armeni said. “At this location, there is an average of 24,000 people coming through a day, so that was what sold it to us.”
In addition to the robots, the bar will employ 16 humans, including what Armeni calls “Galactica Ambassadors,” women dressed in space-themed metallic silver dresses – they’re basically a squad of hostesses. Technicians are also on hand to tend to the machines should problems arise.
The techs also ensure the robot's self-cleaning system is working properly because unlike bartenders and other servers – whose hygiene habits are largely a matter of trust – these robots automatically clean their robot “hands” between each drink.
Now, if two robots, whose only associated costs are the initial investment, maintainence costs, and the electricity required to operate them, can perform the exact same job as a human server, ask yourself: How could anybody justifying being paid $15 an hour to perform the same job - but not as well - as an oversized electric back-massager hooked up to an iPad?