Suffolk teenagers create barman robot which can mix a cocktail and track stock levels

(l-r) Caleb Bond and Benedict O'Donovan

(l-r) Caleb Bond and Benedict O'Donovan - Credit: Archant

A pair of Ipswich teenagers, who met aged 12 and shared a love of films including The Terminator and I Robot, have formed a futuristic company in a bid to market a cyborg barman.

Their machine, the first of its kind, can mix and pour drinks, take payment and keep track of stock levels – dispensing with human error and long queues at the bar.

The company it is marketed under – DART – also signals a landmark high for businesses in Suffolk according to www.informdirect.co.uk, a provider of online company secretarial software.

The records management business, which also operates out of Ipswich, has pinpointed the teenagers’ enterprise as the county’s 30,000th registered firm.

The boys behind the venture are 19-year-olds Caleb Bond and Benedict O’Donovan, who met at Ipswich School.


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The robot was the brainwave of Benedict, an established entrepreneur who is studying for a degree in economics at Durham University.

He has launched three companies in the past four years including a computer technical support agencyin Suffolk, a tea subscription service and the robotics firm.

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He said: “Throughout history we have been scared about the rise of technology but actually our ability to create machines to do the hard graft is what makes us great.

“Robots are not so dissimilar to humans. We both act on electronic impulses and signals to the brain –it’s just that one is made of flesh and blood and the other metal.”

Caleb, who is studying for a degree in engineering, achieved three A* and two A grades at A-level.

He designs, builds, programmes and tests DART’s robotic solutions and also has experience creating lighting displays and special effects for theatre production companies.

He said: “We provide bars, clubs, and events with the technology they need to solve their greatest problems; from apps to robotic bartenders.”

DART, based in Ipswich, takes the total number of companies operating in the region to a record high.

Henry Catchpole, CEO of Inform Direct, said the teens were part of a new generation of budding entrepreneurs whose talent and creativity was helping make Britain a more

enterprising nation.

“They are part of an explosion in start-up activity in the UK,” he said.

“It’s wonderful to see such an exciting business take such a landmark spot in company formations in Suffolk.”

Last year in the UK as a whole, 586,784 new businesses were registered with Companies House, taking the total number to a record high of 3,509,084.

Mr Catchpole said there are a number of complementary factors fuelling this growth.

“Many companies can successfully operate from home and need little more than a website before they can start trading.”

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