11.06.2018

We’ve been living in the era of drone-delivered KFC for well over a week now so we’re not sure what took so long, but Shanghai *finally* has a cocktail bar/coffee shop that uses AI and robots. Phew.

It’s called Ratio and at the moment is just a pop-up in the basement of a mall, but they’re promising a full store in the basement of another shopping mall soon. They’re also promising that you’ll get to “taste the future” with their range of AI-crafted drinks.

From the press release:

“Harnessing the accuracy and consistency of a cobot, short for “collaborative robot”, each n is prepared precisely to order, and speed – one latte in under one minute. No mistakes, no hygiene issues.

And no downtime. With the power of Artificial Intelligence, RATIO stores your orders, learns about your preferences and even makes recommendations during future visits.

So, as Ratio is keen to let you know, the more you drink, the more accurate the “recommendation engine” gets. As excuses for one last drink go, it’s not bad.

Naturally all the ordering is done through WeChat, where you can tinker with your drink’s make-up via a range of adjustable presets. A robotic arm then whirs into action, picking out a glass or a shaker and making your drink. This part seems a little superfluous, but as a photogenic gimmick it certainly piques the interest of the smartphone-wielding masses.

The presence of the “cobot” might heighten the precision of the drinks and increase the chance of you receiving a latte with “Hello Dave” written in the foam, but it’s the AI-enhanced recipes that will surely be the long-term takeaway here. In boasting a barista/bartender that really does know what you’re having, Ratio may well have found a front-of-house use for AI in the F&B realm that’s more than just for show.

If the inevitable march of automation and China’s rush toward all AI everything means that we get carefully calibrated cocktails and cups of coffee, I get the feeling Shanghai’s residents will largely be down with it. At least we can sip on a decent Negroni while watching the rise of the robots.

Credit: Jake Newby, Radiichina on 11.06.18
There’s Now an AI Robot Cocktail Bar and Coffee Shop in Shanghai