Cruise Ship Accidents, Cruise Ship Law

Are Robot Bartenders a Cruise Ship Lawsuit Waiting to Happen?


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Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

cruise ship lawsuit

cruise ship lawsuitStanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey ends spectacularly, with Hal, the sentient computer in charge of the space ship taking over. Throughout the film, Hal remains calmly in charge, speaking soothingly to the captain and crew. Yet, when Hal begins to make errors, the crew tries to shut him down. Hal wants nothing to do with this, and decides to kill the astronauts before they can take him offline.

The movie’s idea has become the central fear of many anti-artificial intelligence advocates. People create intelligent machines. Machines get smarter than people. Machines take over. End of story.

Sure, there’s always the fear that robots can take over, but does this idea affect the cruise industry? Yes, and in more ways than one! In fact, robots may actually lead to a cruise ship lawsuit. Read on to find out how. 


Cruise Lines Adopt a More Futuristic Culture

As technology continues to improve, many cruise companies have decided to incorporate artificial intelligence into their repertoire of amenities. In fact, some of the world’s largest cruise ships have robots bartenders on board already, including several Royal Caribbean vessels. These robot bartenders are touted as always being able to pour just the right balance of alcohol and mixer, working quickly and efficiently. In fact, a writer for the Verge called their motions “almost human.” Cruise passengers who have purchased an appropriate package have access to the robot bar, but is the concept too good to be true?


Are Robotic Bartenders Safe?

The futuristic idea of having a robot serve you drinks sounds appealing and fun, but there are several risks. For one, will any humans oversee the robot bartenders to make sure they aren’t serving underage drinkers? Secondly, do the robots have any methods to detect whether a passenger has had “one too many?”

As cruise ship accident lawyers, we learn about far too many instances where passengers get hurt as a result being overserved drinks they were obviously not in a condition to be continue to consume safely. Heavy drinking puts passengers at greater risk of violence, sexual assault, and even falling overboard. Plus, if human cruise ship bartenders often fail to gauge when someone is dangerously inebriated, how are robots expected to maintain passenger safety? What happens if someone gets alcohol poisoning? These are all questions cruise lines have to ask themselves and provide answers for.

The Burden of Responsibility Following a Cruise Ship Accident and Filing a Cruise Ship Lawsuit

If someone does happen to get severely injured because of a robot bartender, who exactly will be responsible? We certainly can’t sue a robot. Does this then mean that the victim can file a cruise ship lawsuit against the actual cruise company? The answer is yes.

Cruise lines have a duty to provide for the safety of everyone on board the ship and use reasonable care under the circumstances to achieve that goal. In this case, part of providing shipboard safety means monitoring robot bartenders and passengers who are drinking. The fear is not that robots will “take over,” but that they just can’t accurately assess how much a passenger has already drunk before poring them the next drink, which can lead to potentially terrible cruise ship accident.

Still, cruise lines like the idea of artificial intelligence because they can save money. Robot bartenders can replace human bartenders, thus decreasing payroll costs (robots don’t need any income) and making sure they get paid for each drink that gets pored and that the pour is what it is supposed to be and not an over pour to a good tipper. But cutting costs has shown to lead to an increase in cruise ship accidents (and cruise ship lawsuits) in other instances in the past.

New, more powerful tools like robot bartenders only mean that cruise lines have to find new safety methods to make sure safety is not compromised at the expense of money. The hope is that cruise lines will allow the robot bartenders to be a cool feature, while still being overseen by a real human to make sure nothing goes wrong. Who knows, maybe the robot bartenders could come with breathalyzers as well.

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