Skip to main content

British Airways Is Bringing AI-Powered Robot Bartenders to U.S. Airports

One day soon, when the robots finally take over and enslave us all, we’ll wonder where it all went wrong. Should we have seen the signs? Replacing human bartenders with AI-powered automatons seems a likely start. British Airways is tempting fate anyway by trialing “robot” bartenders at two major U.S. airports.

We’ve all had that moment of impatient rage after standing for more than 60 seconds at the bar without service. You mutter to yourself and anyone within earshot, “Who do I have to murder to get a drink around here?” British Airways just announced a possible end to those moments with a new, highly efficient “robot” bartender at two airport lounges. It’s not a robot in the traditional, apocalyptic-Skynet-killing-machine sense, but rather a sophisticated automated device capable of dispensing 30 specific cocktails. Anything more complicated will still require a living human.

barsys robot bartender
Barsys/Facebook

The program was designed by Barsys, an innovator in smart bar technology for the home. Customers can order a drink through the British Airways app, place a cocktail glass on the system’s conveyer belt, and let the robot work its magic. British Airways is even debuting two locally inspired cocktails — dubbed Echo-Whisky-Romeo and Silicon Galley — as a nod to the program’s two trial locations in Newark and San Francisco.

There’s something to be said for ruthless mixological efficiency. Indeed, the Barsys system can dispense a precisely measured cocktail in just 45 seconds. That’s a welcome promise for air travelers on a tight schedule. But, most airport lounge customers choose to skip a grab-and-go beer at Chili’s because they have a little extra time on their hands. They’re unlikely to be concerned with making a 20-minute connection. For those passengers — and for us here at The Manual — we don’t mind waiting an extra minute or two for a human-poured cocktail with a side of legit human interaction.

Thankfully, Barsys CEO and founder, Akshet Tewari, assures us that lounge bartenders aren’t going away any time soon. The system is simply designed to “free them up to make more complicated drinks and interact with customers.”

The Barsys AI-powered bartender is part of a massive, multi-billion-dollar plan for British Airways to improve the passenger experience over the next five years. The airline is trialing Barsys for First and Club World passengers only at Newark and San Franciso International until March 2020.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
11 best meatless grilling recipes to make for barbecue season
If you're a vegetarian, you can still enjoy your backyard grill this summer
Fried pineapple slices with creme fraiche, mint in black square plate on dark background

To put it bluntly, you don't need meat to grill. There are plenty of other outstanding ingredients worthy of the open flame and subsequent char marks, from burly vegetables to summery fruits. We're about to be waist-deep in market season, which means all kinds of great produce finds at your local store or farm stand.

And there's no better way to enjoy them than through the unique and wonderfully hedonistic power of cooking over fire. It is the best way to enjoy a good meal on a warm day, and because we're going meatless here, it's all the healthier (and humane and better on the environment). That's not to say we don't love a good steak, but sometimes you need to broaden your palate.

Read more
Macchiato vs latte: These two popular coffee drinks, explained
Do you know the difference?
Barista preparing drink

Now that sophisticated coffee drinks can be at our fingertips with nothing more than a press of a few buttons, it's time we learn exactly what we're drinking. With all of the wonderful espresso machines available now, we can make everything from americanos to flat whites to cappuccinos to affogatos. And while all of these options are great to have, there's certainly a lot to learn. Naturally, being made with essentially the same ingredients but varying techniques (however subtle), there's bound to be more than a little bit of confusion. Every day, we hear these words shouted out at our local coffee shops, but do we really know what they mean? Their ingredients? How much milk or foam or espresso or flavorings go into each? Does anyone really know? Our bet is that most of the people standing in line with you at Starbucks every morning are every bit as befuddled. So we're here to finally tackle the mystery.

Let's start with two of the most popular coffee drinks - macchiatos and lattes. What's the difference between these two delicious coffee beverages?
Macchiato vs latte

Read more
These are the absolute best citrus beers to drink this summer
Citrus and beer were made for each other
Beer

If you’ve ever imbibed a classic, crisp Corona Extra with a lime wedge, you understand that citrus and beer were made for each other. Well, maybe not stouts, porters, and other darker beers. But lighter styles are perfect playmates with limes, lemons, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits.

Summer is the perfect time for a thirst-quenching, refreshing beer. The season is also a great time to enjoy a citrus-centric beer. The best part? Well, there are a lot to choose from. Lagers, IPAs, Gose-style beers, wheat beers, pilsners, and countless styles are flavored with citrus fruits.
The best citrus beers to drink this summer

Read more