Germany -- A bartender who is handy with a shotglass wouldn't surprise anyone these days; rather, the agility is expected from someone of this line of business. However, customers travel from far and wide to admire this particular bartender at work. Reason? Carl is... not quite human. The humanoid robot mixes drinks for guests at the Robots Bar and Lounge in Ilmenau, eastern Germany.
The robot is the creation of mechatronics engineer Ben Schaefer, who has spent 23 years working in the field. He built Carl from the parts of disused industrial robots.
His newest employee helps out his human colleagues by pouring out measures of spirits and adding them to cocktail shakers for mixing.
He can also conduct short conversations with the customers who take up the bar's nine seats. The small talks probably don't sparkle like the drinks yet, because the robot's speech recognition skills and ability to interact are, for the moment, limited.
Writing on the bar's website, Mr Schaefer said his company aims to make humanity in humanoid robots closer to reality and show that 'scenes as in science fiction films are quite possible'. Humanoid robots tend to have limbs and a torso to resemble the human body, while artificial intelligence tries to replicate the way the mind works.
By putting Carl in a real-life scenario, it was easier to test the programming and make improvements than it would be in a laboratory.
'On this system, you can let your imagination run wild, because each step makes our robot a bit more human,' Mr Shaefer writes.
For now, Carl will be part-tourist attraction and part test-dummy while Mr Schaefer and his team work out how to shake humanoid robotics out of its 'stagnant' state.