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App-controlled robot bartender debuts at Google I/O

Makr Shakr mimics the motions of a dancer mimicking the motions of a bartender, and makes crowdsourced libations for frazzled developers and anyone else.

Now this is better than anything even the Jetsons had.
Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

It won't console you as you drown your sorrows in alcohol, but MIT's Makr Shakr robotic bartender can make exactly the drink you're looking for before you've even arrived at the bar.

MIT's Senseable City Lab teamed up with Coca-Cola and Bacardi Rum to bring Makr Shakr to Google I/O, which starts Wednesday in San Francisco. The system allows barflies and frazzled developers alike to personalize their cocktail recipe of choice via a smartphone app, or to choose a libation created by another user, creating a crowdsourced drink menu.

"The system explores the new dynamics of social creation and consumption -- 'design, make, and enjoy' -- allowing users to design their own cocktail creations, while digitally controlled machines transform these designs into reality," Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT Senseable City Lab, said in an e-mail.

Once an order is placed via the app, three robotic arms serve up the drink using movements that mimic the real-world action of an uber-graceful bartender -- Makr Shakr's movements are modeled on the gestures of Italian dancer Roberto Bolle, along with director and choreographer Marco Pelle.

Watch Makr Shakr in action in the video below and let us know in the comments what drink you'd order from it if given the chance. I'm wondering if it could resurrect Crystal Pepsi from the ashes of the cola wars. Oh wait, this is a part of a Coca-Cola partnership. Never mind.