If you're planning a big party in the near future -- a wedding reception, perhaps, or a Bar Mitzvah, or an inauguration gala -- you're probably spending a lot of money on staff to make sure everything runs smoothly. Between catering, waiters, and decoration, you've got a lot of dough riding on a lot of different people.
Well we here at HuffPost Tech had to ask: Why waste all that cash on a staff of humans -- who are prone to error, unsightliness, automobile breakdowns on the way to the venue, and other various fallibilities -- when you could instead get all the labor you need from a staff composed entirely of efficient, unerring robots?
Below, check out all the new, exciting 'bots that you could hire for your upcoming birthday bash, baby shower, or toga-foam party (we won't judge!), and how a robot or two could get your next set of festivities running smoothly:
First, you're going to need to tidy up your event space. For that, we recommend the SmartPal V Cleaning Robot, from Japanese company Yaskawa. The Smart Pal V -- seen here in a video from 2007 -- can pick up discarded items left on the floor from your last party, vacuum, and even handle a duster, too, just in case your home's a little stuffy. Combine the SmartPal V with <a href="http://www.irobot.com/en/us/robots/home/roomba.aspx">a fleet of classic Roombas</a> (the autonomous, disc-like vacuum cleaners from iRobot), and your space will be spic-and-span for your guests in no time.
At a party, there's nothing classier than a valet, and robotics has you covered here. While there aren't any human-like androids driving cars just yet, there are plenty of automated systems in testing. The classic choice would be to dispatch a fleet of Google self-driving cars (<a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2012-09-25/tech/tech_innovation_self-driving-car-california_1_autonomous-cars-driverless-vehicles-human-drivers">now legal in California</a>, West Coast party-throwers!) to pick up your guests. But if you want something a little less mainstream, we'd opt for this electric blue Volkswagen Passat, equipped with the autonomous valet parking system (perfect!) from the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab at Stanford University. These neato VWs can pick up your guests and park themselves, too. Another benefit of self-driving cars: With science behind the wheel, you don't have to worry about your guests driving home after getting a bit overzealous with the booze. Speaking of which...
For our bartender, we could have gone with <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8UeT9r4cmg">Honda's impressive Asimo</a>, who can now pour drinks from one container into another. He moves a bit too slowly, however, and we want a 'tender who can dole out the cocktails quick. That's why we've opted for the mighty Inebriator, a homemade project that is <a href="http://www.theinebriator.com/the-bar/">programmed to mix 15 unique and yummy cocktails</a> at the press of a button. <a href="http://www.theinebriator.com/the-bar/">Check the drink list</a>: There's sure to be something to satisfy all of your guests (provided they like drinking). Now, at this point, you might be wondering: Are my guests going to have to walk all the way over to the Inebriator to retrieve their drinks in order to get inebriated? Because that's kind of inconvenient, all that walking. No way, man. When you have robots on staff, everything gets brought straight to you.
For years, robot butlers were stymied by a devastating problem: They couldn't quickly serve open container drinks, because liquid kept on splashing from the top of the glass as they moved. Thanks to the whizzes at the prolific <a href="http://willowgarage.com">Willow Garage</a> robotics firm, that problem has been solved. A robot can now move about a room with a tray holding several drinks and swing that tray around to offer guests a cocktail without spilling. And oh yeah, if liquor's not your thing, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3Cq0sy4TBs">Willow Garage also has a robot</a> that can fetch beers from the refrigerator and bring them to your guests. Drink up!
Sushi Chef Robot!
If you're going to have the Inebriator and the Beer-Fetcher at your party, you better have something to nibble on, too, so that your guests don't overdo it. One option for robotic catering is this automated combo sushi chef/pastry-maker; though it's not actually preparing any food, it can handle soft objects (like sushi or pastries) and place those items on small plates. If a dismembered pneumatic arm with a lifelike hand at the end is a bit too creepy, you can try the less threatening SushiBot, which <a href="http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/04/sushibot/">can dish out up to 3,600 rolls of sushi per hour</a>. Looking for a less hoity-toity fare for your party? We've got you covered, too. Did someone say "pizza robot"?
Pizza Delivery Robot!
We wanted to use <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/23/tacocopter-startup-delivers-tacos-by-unmanned-drone-helicopter_n_1375842.html">our beloved Tacocopter</a> -- you know, the drone quadcopter that delivers tacos <a href="http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/411211/march-27-2012/thought-for-food---tacocopter">via delicious tactical air strike</a> -- but that system is not quite in prototype yet. Instead, we're going to go with an equally-necessary airborne delivery idea: PizzaCopter. Yes, it is exactly like Tacocopter, except it delivers pizza; and no, it is not yet a real business. You can, however, watch its maiden delivery of pizza to the left. Take that, Papa John's! Okay, now that you and your friends are tipsy and full of delicious pizza and sushi, what's next for your party? Well, how about a little entertainment?
This incredible robot can juggle 5 balls at once, which is apparently no easy task to program. Your guests will be hypnotized as this intimidatingly powerful machine-monster hurls five beanbags high into the air and keeps them afloat for hours at a time with stunning, frightening precision. While your friends marvel at this feat, you're going to want to get some good reaction photos -- their faces will be priceless! Well, good news: There's a robot for that, too.
<a href="http://blogs.msdn.com/b/msroboticsstudio/archive/2011/10/27/smile-for-the-camera.aspx">Microsoft created this robotic party photographer</a> -- aka the "Roborazzi"-- to show off its Robotics Developer Studio 4 software, and it's a dandy: The Roborazzi roams around your party space and snaps a photo whenever it finds someone new. He's a one-man party patrol, always looking out for that night's memory. If you're throwing a certain kind of party, there might be a time when you want to send the Roborazzi away -- especially if you hire the next robot for your staff. Things are about to get naughty...
Stripper Robot? Stripper Robot! Yes, our brightest technological minds have been hard at work at creepy, hypnotically-weird robots who can pole-dance, which will be a great relief, I suppose, to a certain subset of Americans. If your buddy is getting married soon, and you're really committed to a party staffed by robots: Well, here you go. You and your friends are going to have a wild night! Just remember that what happens with a robot stripper, stays with the robot stripper (please). Which reminds me: What do you do if you don't have any friends to have a party with? Well, robots have you covered there, too!
If you don't have friends to invite to your party, don't worry: Robot pals are available for almost any activity or party type you can imagine! There are <a href="http://singularityhub.com/2011/06/13/pool-playing-robot-shoots-five-billiard-balls-in-a-row-video/">robots who can play pool</a> (billiards party!); and <a href="http://io9.com/5916225/meet-swumanoid-japans-swimming-robot">robots who can swim</a> (pool party!); and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vwZ5FQEUFg">robots who can dance</a> (dance party!); and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvIdwMrrEmc">robots who can shoot basketballs</a> (sports party!). Why, there's even a robot who can perform a circumcision. (Just kidding! For now) To your left you can see two ping pong robots, hanging out with some cool human friends and enjoying a competitive game of table tennis. At the end of the video, you'll see one of the robots square off against a human. That could be you, at your very own robot party!