by danny axelrod
Silicon Valley may be the hub of high-tech innovation, but Las Vegas recently scored a digital coup of its own with the opening of Tipsy Robot at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. It’s the world’s first land-based robotic bar, with two automated arms that swivel on multiple axes to prepare drinks and “dance” by bobbing and rotating to EDM and Top 40 tunes. You can even snap a selfie with them.
Rino Armeni, who is chairman of Robotic Innovations and has decades of expertise with major hospitality companies, said he wanted to open the bar to bring more attention to Las Vegas’ vibrant nightlife scene.
“One of the things that has frustrated me at times is that all of the food and beverage trends in Las Vegas always seem to be five to 10 years behind the times,” said Armeni, who is also founder and chair of the Las Vegas Business Academy. “We are going to take the bar to a different level and create a new trend that is ahead of its time by 10 years.”
While any location on the Strip would be a suitable place to unveil such an attraction, there is something about the unique scale and scope of Planet Hollywood’s location that makes it a slam dunk for introducing the happy hour of the future.
“It’s a matter of sheer volume,” he said. “From the entrance to our location, there are 24,000 people per day on average, with an additional 40,000 on average per day inside the mall.”
Guests can order one of 18 signature cocktails — or create a custom concoction — by downloading an app onto their mobile phones or using one of the bar’s 33 digital tablets.
“Once the order is transmitted, amazing engineering turns into magical mystery as the robots do their thing, and the drinks get made,” Armeni said, explaining that the beverage possibilities are endless.
While travelers have seen similar operations aboard some Royal Caribbean International cruise ships, this is the first of its kind anywhere on land. And while the application of this technology is groundbreaking, at the end of the day, the mechanical hardware has been used in other industries for generations.
“Our robots are industrial robots that have been around for 40 years,” said Armeni. “What we did was make an adjustment in the reach of the robots, as well as the software.” So will this leave the human bartenders at risk of losing their livelihoods? Armeni says no.
“This is not going to replace bartenders,” he said. “We actually have a small bar with actual bartenders serving drinks as well.”
Armeni hopes the bar will become a signature destination like the bubbling volcano at The Mirage, the swashbuckling pirates and steamy sirens at the old Treasure Island, and the beloved, beguiling Fountains of Bellagio.
One thing is for sure — there’s a certain charm to seeing an actual robot doing the Funky Robot while mixing a “Mr. Roboto” (vodka, simple syrup and lime topped with ginger beer).