How to brew the perfect cup of tea using a chatbot and an old phone

For Guy Martin's UK television show, a group of enthusiasts from the robotics studio Running in the Halls have created an unusual R2-Tea2 tea machine. There were two conditions - the device should take into account the preferences of the customer before brewing tea, and be created from components that are available to any viewer of the program.

If a machine is to recognize human requests, it needs artificial intelligence, albeit in a stripped-down version. It was an application, a simple chatbot that was launched on an old Nokia mobile phone. The host of the show exchanged SMS-messages with R2-Tea2 and the latter, based on his wishes, made a choice of what strength to brew tea and what to add there.

The hardware part was implemented on the basis of a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, which controls the mechanisms for selecting cups and brewing, moving components along the "infusion line". Servos manipulate a kettle with boiling water, a robotic hand holds a tea bag, there is an option to add milk to the finished drink.

Note - the R2-Tea2 tea machine may well function as an independent device. A separate phone number is assigned to it and the user just needs to remember to replenish consumables. Plus, you can expand the scope of scripts for the chatbot and teach him to brew new types of tea.