back to article El Reg needs you – to help build an automated beer-transporting robot

The Register needs to build a robot capable of transporting multiple pints of beer without spilling a drop. Can you help? Vulture Central has moved to a shiny new shared collaboration space in central London, which, among other exciting advances, features a selection of beers to refresh thirsty hacks, weary from a day of …

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  1. knarf

    Eh.. Get an office Jnr its easier....maybe

    Not really in the spirit/beer of the article but Office Jnrs do have flaws

    1. They expect a reward

    2. Office Jnr on previous errand was told to get something for themselves, so they bought themselves a nice jumper (sweater if your USA).

    3. Good ones always break down or get lost.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Plumbing

      This "project" is an example of viewing all problems as nails because you only own a hammer.

      The correct way to get the beer to the office does not involve robots. It involves plumbing, just like you move beer around in a brewery. Nothing more.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eh.. Get an office Jnr its easier....maybe

      How About a Tea Lady /Person?

      As well as providing valuable employment to someone they can also push a trolley carrying biscuits and other snacks.

      Alternatively: Beer pumps direct to desks run along the network conduit. Could also be put into the budget as liquid cooling or some such thing.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Eh.. Get an office Jnr its easier....maybe

        Had t-ladies at NRES (National Rail Enquiry Service) goining up & down the aisles of customer representatives, while I was doing deployments & post deployment support.

        Never drank so much tea on a hourly\daily basis. :D

      2. pgeuk

        Re: Eh.. Get an office Jnr its easier....maybe

        I think this has been done by the Germans and rather nicely it I say so myself.

        Do a google image search on 'oktober bierfest barmaid' if you need further convincing that outsourcing this requirement is a sound proposal.

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Eh.. Get an office Jnr its easier....maybe

      An Arduino-powered autonomous bot with a connection to the PFY's smartphone via Bluetooth plus GPS and a cooler to keep the beer cool and unspilled should be relatively simple to build. The trick is picking the glass up and placing it on the designated drinker's desk, or can your PFY do this?

      1. Aqua Marina

        Re: Eh.. Get an office Jnr its easier....maybe

        I remember doing this in the 80s as a child using cans of coke, a Big Trak and the optional self emptying trailer attachment.

        How do I claim my prize?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Eh.. Get an office Jnr its easier....maybe

          "I remember doing this in the 80s as a child using cans of coke, a Big Trak and the optional self emptying trailer attachment.

          How do I claim my prize?"

          You don't. You forget to put the beer in special proprietary pouches, only usable once per serving, sold only by you, pre-filled from a very small "carefully chosen" selection of shite brands and the obligatory insecure bluetooth IoT comms link to a special smartphone app that only works on the very latest Android version that shows a picture of the brand label of the beer as it arrives.

      2. bish

        Re: Eh.. Get an office Jnr its easier....maybe

        GPS? It's just got to follow the PFY. And while you might use a duino to drive the motors, you'll want the Pi for the brains (whatever following system is used, and obstacle avoidance).

        But the really difficult part here is 'without spilling a drop'. If we're talking about pints, in proper, broad-rimmed pint glasses, filled to the brim, putting them on any kind of motor vehicle without spillage is damn tricky. The platform will have to be suspended nicely so that it remains flat, and even then, the robot will need to avoid sudden jerky movements.

        I'd probably just give the PFYs a talk on why the business is transitioning to performance-related pay, and clearly explain their new KPIs.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Eh.. Get an office Jnr its easier....maybe

          clearly explain their new KPIs

          Key Pint-related Indicators?

        2. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Eh.. Get an office Jnr its easier....maybe

          A £35 Arduino Mega 2560 with an InvenSense MPU-6050 MEMS accelerometer and Gyro - tested with a small glass with water and it reacts just about fast enough to stabilise.

  2. Mike Aubury 1

    Sounds like it could be done with a long piece of elastic ?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Maybe...

      at a stretch.

  3. frank ly Silver badge

    Alternatively

    Wouldn't it be easier and quicker to install extension lines from the bar to your offices? Then the PFY could clean/flush them out every morning and fill your offices with that wonderful heady aroma.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Alternatively

      Just like in Belgium? Where the beer lines go from the factory to the end consumer?

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Alternatively

        Last year I ate at a restaurant in Prague (Vytopna - it has a few other branches around the Czech Republic too) where drinks are delivered to the table by G-scale model trains.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%BDtopna

        1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker
          Thumb Up

          Re: Alternatively

          Anything delivered by model train is cool.

          There's this one restaurant in Wisconsin Dells, just off Interstate 94. We had stayed in the waterpark resort next door and needed a good meal before hitting the highway for hours. The kids loved it. Forget drinks: they delivered the whole meal!

    2. Blofeld's Cat
      Pint

      Re: Alternatively

      The boiler room of one place I worked in had several large pipes that wandered off to distant parts of the factory.

      Along with the usual labels such as "Gas" and "Rising fire main", four of the larger pipes were labelled "Mild", "Bitter", "Tea (with)" and "Tea (without)".

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Alternatively

        Along with the usual labels such as "Gas" and "Rising fire main", four of the larger pipes were labelled "Mild", "Bitter", "Tea (with)" and "Tea (without)".

        One must be careful labeling the pipes lest the sewer pipe get labeled "Executive Quality Beer" or something similar and the peons try tapping into it.

  4. a cynic writes...

    First time I've heard the Knights Templar described as a "...shared collaboration space."

  5. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Pint

    What's wrong with...

    A mini-fridge under the desk ?

    Probably be cheaper than designing and building a robot wouldn't it ?

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: What's wrong with...

      In the same way that a cave with an open fire is cheaper than designing a house with central heating. Good god man, millennia of evolution should set your ambition a bit higher than a mini-fridge!!

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: What's wrong with...

        > "Good god man, millennia of evolution should set your ambition a bit higher than a mini-fridge!!"

        Like a midi-fridge?

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: What's wrong with...

          Like a midi-fridge?

          <perk>

          It plays tunes? Is it polyphonic?

    2. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: What's wrong with...

      No the mini fridge needs to be higher - think of the resik and effort involved in bending down.

    3. Big_Boomer

      Re: What's wrong with...

      Cold beer? Weirdo :D

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: What's wrong with...

        Cold beer? Weirdo

        It's probably L*ger or some other abomination.

        Anyway, proper drinkables come in mysterious cloudy bottles/demijohns with no labels and smells of apples.

    4. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: What's wrong with...

      We're talking beer here so no need for a fridge to take the taste away!

    5. TrumpSlurp the Troll
      Trollface

      Re: What's wrong with...fridge

      Sod the down votes this is a proper designer talking.

      Loads of detailed comments further down which are really over engineering, but the basic requirement is to have beer available without having to send someone to get it.

      Oh, and the obvious fun bit (of the more practical designs) is in the transport of filled glasses without spillage. Pending further information I am assuming that snacks and drinks are self service, so loading the platform is going to be the major development task, not the trundling bit. The beer is also going to be bottled/canned so no glass filling required prior to transport. If the office provider is foolish enough to have a full time barperson then table service is a small part of the role.

      Reminds me strongly of the urban legend that NASA spemt millions developing a pen which would write in zero gravity, whilst the Russians used a pencil.

      As for lateral thinking, how about a mobile desk which the journo can push/drive to the snacks area and back? Make it a stand up one and work, exercise and refreshment can be combined.

      Complicated design can be fun but how many times have developers gone off on one without even reading/receiving the full requirements?

    6. Uffish

      Re: What's wrong with a fridge...

      ... it needs a cannon and an app.

      https://hackaday.com/2011/01/01/beer-shooting-dorm-fridge/#more-32335

  6. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    WTF?

    "shared collaboration space"

    Is that one of those hipster fake offices like that Trampery idiot rents out?

    You're not in Shoreditch are you????

    Truly, the end times are upon us.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: "shared collaboration space"

      You can share space, but you don't have to collaborate. Perhaps a shared warfare space instead?

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: "shared collaboration space"

      We're not in Shoreditch. We're using WeWork in Sydney, San Francisco and London (Gray's Inn Road, Camden).

      In each location, we have our own private walled-off offices with our own desks, phones, Ethernet, etc, adjoining a shared space that has stuff like coffee, tea, biscuits/cookies, beer, cider, wine, kitchen, sofas, etc.

      Well, except in California. They took away our alcohol :(

      C.

      1. VinceH Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: "shared collaboration space"

        Now, where's that link I usually trot out at times like these?

        Ah, yes, here it is. :p

        As to solving the problem in the London office - I imagine there's a sprinkler system. Consider re-purposing it.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: "shared collaboration space"

        "Well, except in California. They took away our alcohol :("

        That's not California, that's San Francisco. Y'all would be much better off moving up to Sonoma County. Great booze, great food, not in the rat-race, better weather (no, really!), the local .gov stays out of other people's business (mostly), and it's a hell of a lot cheaper.

      3. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: "shared collaboration space"

        > "In each location, we have our own private walled-off offices with our own desks, phones, Ethernet, etc, adjoining a shared space that has stuff like coffee, tea, biscuits/cookies, beer, cider, wine, kitchen, sofas, etc."

        Uh-huh, you mean you work from a bedsit?

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: "shared collaboration space"

          Uh-huh, you mean you work from a bedsit?

          Can't be. He didn't mention cockroaches or aggressive mould..

  7. Colonel Mad

    It's clear that some commentators are not taking this seriously enough, however I do think that we need a site visit to fully understand the problems that need to be overcome, and we need to examine very closely the types of beer served and the containers used, I suggest you invite the readership to join you in said watering hole and buy them all a beer

    1. I Am Spartacus
      Pint

      More information

      How many beers?

      Are they all pints, or do some girlies drink halves?

      Can we assume standard beer glasses, or are they pint pots with handles?

      Is it just beer, or are there glasses of white wine, mojito, G&T as well?

      How often is this used (one a day, just afternoons, or every 15 minutes?)

      Come On El Reg - we are professionals here - we need a full end user expectation statement!

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker
        Boffin

        Re: More information

        My usual customer calls it a Critical Item Development Specification (CIDS), also known as "the requirements".

      2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: More information

        Can we assume standard beer glasses, or are they pint pots with handles?

        Au contraire, mi amicus, this is the South of England we're talking about, so probably the naff weirdly-moulded things with handles.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: More information

        we are professionals here

        Oi! I resemble that remark!

        Take it back immediately or I'll say something rude about your toenails!

    2. richardcox13
      Go

      > to fully understand the problems

      A complete understanding is likely to take significant quantities of beettime.

      in which case, unless the suppliers are properly scaled-out the underlying requirement maybe moot.

      If there is no beer left what is the purpose of a beer-transporting robot?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Devil

        Why build a robot?

        I myself am already a fully-autonomous, self-contained, intelligent* beer-transportation system. Simply feed real ale into my oral input receptacle, and within just a few hours I can output lager wherever it is required. Warmed and under slight pressure. Although I strenuously deny any rumours that I've been working for Fosters for years...

        *I'd pass a Turing test - if required to sober-up. Probably...

  8. Peter Prof Fox
    Pint

    Flying saucer

    Why not adapt one of those autonomous vacuum cleaners?

    Add a come-to-mother director and then replace the bumper sensors with proximity sensors to minimise bumping.

    This would be in proper hacking spirit.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: Flying saucer

      There even is a model specifically for such purposes - cheaper than a vacuum cleaner, because it does not have the cleaning parts.

      I suggest that one important hack would be to implement soft start/soft stop, as to avoid tipping of the liquid being transported. Perhaps some kind of a closed loop controller with proportional/integral/derivative calculation and sensitive acceleration sensors in two or three directions ...

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Flying saucer

        A roomba-like tray would seem to be either a trip hazard or, if taller, somewhat unstable.

        Better to have something with a wide base (recognising the suggestions of using a Big-trak)

        http://hackhitchin.org.uk/bighak/

        Or self-balancing :

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-wvVul0kd4

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Flying saucer

          Robot vacuum cleaner? With a regular hoover, a pipe connected to the outlet and reasonable aim, you could get the beer around much quicker.

  9. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Before the electronics...

    ...you can test a mechanical system for not spilling beer. I'm thinking of the beer held in a cradle, suspended from the apex of a pyramid frame. For testing purposes this frame can just be bolted on top of a 18" x 18" wooden board with castors - of the type sold to shift furniture.

    It may work. It may not. That's what the testing is for.

    Of course, if all beer glasses are of uniform height, one can just use a hinged clamp-down lid to avoid spillage.

    I suggest that the cradle or platform be colour-coded or otherwise marked to ensure the empty glass that is sent to the bar returns (full) to the journo who sent it.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Before the electronics...

      Of course, if all beer glasses are of uniform height, one can just use a hinged clamp-down lid to avoid spillage.

      Or, you could transport the beers in their original, closed containers accompanied by an equal amount of glasses[0] and this ingenious device[1] used to get access to the contents of a closed container of the bottle variety, commonly known as a bottle opener.

      [0] do the set of available beers include ones that would call for dedicated glasses?

      [1] not required for Grolsch (and several German beers) half-liter bottles, and tins.

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