Researchers at Cornell University have developed a robot barista that can do more than just make a latte it's been programmed to make; it can even learn to use unfamiliar coffee machines. The robot can use its past experience, and that of other robots -- as well as text instructions -- to figure out how to use a machine.
The next step in the robot barista's development will be to incorporate a sense of touch as well as visual monitoring to keep it from bumping into things. The robot will also need to be programmed to use trial and error as part of its learning process, as an inexperienced human barista would.
Human baristas needn't fear yet about their jobs; if anything they should be excited because the robot barista could prove to be a useful sidekick, and one that takes care of boring, mundane tasks while leaving real customer service to human colleagues.