The ultimate drinks machine
11 February 2010
Students from Middlesex University’s Product Design and Engineering Department have designed the ultimate drinks dispenser – the ‘Heineken Bot’, an automated robot, which can pour pints right in front of you!
The Bot, a beer keg mounted on driveable wheels, has a specially programmed electronic ‘brain’ which directs it to move along a specific route. By placing your hand above the Bot, a sensor is activated, which stops it moving – you then place a glass under the keg tap, the Bot pours out your drink and moves on to its next customer! It could be the perfect solution for those tense moments ahead during this summer’s World Cup – no danger of missing that crucial penalty shoot-out!
Dr Stephen Prior, Programme Leader for the Masters in Design Engineering at Middlesex, had the idea for the Bot last summer. He developed the device with a team of Middlesex Product Design students – undergraduates Chris Barlow and Darren Lewis, and MSc students Thomas Irps and Jonathon Bell based at the University’s Autonomous Systems Laboratory.
The Bot was first shown at the Kinetica Art Fair, held in central London early in February, alongside art works and gadgets which react to movements and sound. It was one of the most popular exhibits at the show and has already attracted attention from gadget enthusiasts across the world. During the show, Heineken donated all the beer used to demonstrate the Bot, which went down very well with visitors!
Dr Prior said: “This was a state-of-the-art kinetic art exhibition, which all the sector’s most influential people attended, so we were delighted with the level of interest in the Bot”.
He explained that the hardest thing about designing the Bot was making sure that the beer poured smoothly and safely. He said that during the design process the students developed high-level programming skills, and keen business acumen.
So will the Bot available for sale soon? Dr Prior and his team are currently discussing the Bot’s commercial launch. Although the full version might cost around £1500, a range of alternatives could also be developed at slightly lower price levels.
Middlesex University offers Product Design and Robotics courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. PDE students have also designed several successful remote-controlled robots, known as ‘autonomous vehicles’, and other devices which rely on electronic programming. Student teams from Middlesex have enjoyed success in events such as the MoD Grand Challenge, the WorldSkills UK competition in Robotics and have also participated in TV series such as ‘Robot Wars’ and ‘The Gadget Show’. In 2008, Middlesex University was awarded the James Dyson International Award for Product Design.