German television network 3sat features robot-bartender project

Just like a human bartender, “James” the robot will serve a drink to those whose body language signalises a wish for one, say the CITEC researchers Professor Dr. Jan de Ruiter and Dr. Sebastian Loth. They presented their research on 30 January 2014 at 6.30pm on the science programme “nano”, broadcast by German public television network 3sat.

‘James only speaks to guests who make it clear they wish to order through their posture and pose’, says the psychologist Dr. Sebastian Loth. Only then will James ask in well-spoken English: ‘How can I help you.’ Pushy customers don’t stand a chance with James, as he saves information on who first signals to order, and who signals later.

That is why the robot learns to interpret body language. It must be clearly defined to the machine what gesture initiates an order and what doesn’t. Otherwise it could react to signals that have another meaning and annoy people.

According to a study of Bielefeld scientists, customers look into their wallets in less than seven per cent of cases to signal that they are ready to order. Less that four per cent wave to the bartender when they want to order. In more that 90 per cent of all cases, the customer approaches the bar and turns square-on to face it. The researchers discovered in pubs and discos in Bielefeld, Herford and in Edinburgh, Scotland, that customers who do not wish to order will avoid exactly this behaviour: They step back a little from the bar and turn away from it.

The report is in the Internet on: http://www.3sat.de/mediathek/?mode=play&obj=40768