Robotic butler and fridge serve up cold drinks

Say hello to Baxter the ButlerBot and his pal, RoboFridge. Together, they make the "Beverage Delivery System," one of the useful robotic pairings ever. Why? Because when their powers combine, you get a nice cold beer delivered to you.

"Baxter is the transport component of my Beverage Delivery System (BDS)," friend-of-the-site Steve Norris of Norris Labs said in an email. "Supporting Baxter is a fixed location dispenser robot called RoboFridge. You can think of a RoboFridge as a kind of vending machine that does not require money."

Right now, RoboFridge and Baxter are able to operate only if they are on the same floor. Beyond that, the sky's the limit, as Baxter can reach its robotic counterpart using a variety of navigation techniques (shown off in the video above).

"The BDS process starts when a user requests an item using a simple remote control," Norris explained. "The route to and from RoboFridge is downloaded into Baxter via a wireless link. The routes consists of navigate instructions like 'goto beacon,' 'follow line,' 'turn right 90 degrees,' etc. Baxter also supports multiple routes so it can travel to different locations based on which remote control has been pressed.

While watching the video, we thought the can of soda had a rather rough landing in Baxter's trash-can-lid noggin. Not so, contends Norris: "I have not found any problems with shaken up cans. Baxter's handling is no worse than any normal human-based handling of canned beverages."

So, what's next for the pair? Norris is fine-tuning them to better deliver drinks to his home office. We all dream of a future where robots are in every household, but we think that Norris has finally figured out how to make that a reality. I'm going to over to my own fridge and grab and soda, and you better believe I'll be wishing I had a robot to do it for me.

See more of Baxter and RoboFridge in the video above.

(Thanks, Steve!)