Robot technology apart from factories and spacecraft is not particularly advanced ie robots to serve you tea and vacuum the office are not readily available and costly when they are. Rather than having vending machines which always seem to be at the other end of the building, the TBOT or Tea Robot will receive your order through email and deliver your beverage to you or your office. Similar to a VM on wheels but probably not as heavy, or stupid. Correct change would be offered, or billing could be done to your user account. This claim will be judged YES if the TBot is available by the year 2000.
"Availability" of TBOT will be based on commercial availability. The mere existence of a one-of-a-kind robot that serves this purpose, even if for a significant community, would not satisfy the claim.
The robot must be publicly offered for sale before January 1 2000, and (to show the offering is serious, commercial, and available) one must be delivered before March 1 2000 based on a sale or contract of sale signed before January 1 2000. Commercial advertisement for sale of such a robot in "Popular Science" would be an example of an acceptable public offer. Although a general-purpose robot with the capability to prepare and deliver (over 100 feet) beverages might otherwise satisfy the claim, the robot must actually be purchased and used for this purpose before March 10, 2000.
A posting to fx-discuss must cite the availability and sale of such a robot with verifiable authoritative references; such posting must be received by the mailing list server on or before March 18, 2000.
I do not see "email" as a requirement. If such a robot receives its orders over the WEB, for example, but otherwise satisfies the claim I would judge YES.
The robot may have a separate fixed base station and mobile delivery unit; if the bot does have multiple separate parts, each must be automated.
The bot must accept orders remotely. Internet email, a web interface, and an automated telephone ordering system would satisfy this requirement.
The bot may accept coins as payment, but if it does so it must offer exact change. If it manages billing or debiting to an account, it need not handle money.
The phrases "similar to a VM on wheels but probably not as heavy, or stupid" were the author's guesses as to how the claim might be satisfied. As such, they are not requirements. Specifically, we do not need to measure how similar to a VM it is; there is no size, weight, or smartness requirement; modes of locomotion other than wheels would be allowed (miniature helicopter? hovercraft? tank-like tracks? rails in the corridors? Air pressure delivery tubes? Very long straws in the walls that would squirt your drink into your cup? ;-).
However, the bot must accept orders in the sense of allowing a selection from among a nontrivial set of choices, orders must be accepted at a location that is remote from the location where the beverage is delivered, and the bot must deliver only the selected beverage(s) to the individual who placed the order.