More and more jobs, it seems, are in danger of being turned over to robots. James, for instance, is designed to be a bartender, and it's likely the most fair and attentive mixologist you'll ever meet.
What makes James so attentive and egalitarian is a clever bit of programming. James, or the "Joint Action in Multimodal Embodied Systems" robot, is designed not to tolerate people who try to force their way to the head of the line for drinks and to give everybody an equal pour. It's also pretty good at reading body language. Surveillance footage from bars in Scotland and Germany were fed into James' memory banks. This sort of data allows the robot to pick out customers who want its attention and serve them in the order they were noticed. James is also programmed to mix drinks and fulfill orders — and to make a bit of small talk when prompted.
All this work is part of an effort to make future robot bartenders like James intuitive to the average, slightly inebriated human. In the past, robot bartenders have suffered from a learning curve that seems a bit steep when all you want is a pint and a bit of camaraderie. James does away with such things as instructions and touchscreen interfaces and replaces them with good old-fashioned body language cues.
The James project is still ongoing, and will be until January, but if you'd like to check out how this flat-faced barkeep is coming along then take a peek at the video below, where you can see him dishing up a few rounds of water to a couple of his regulars.