Chinese Restaurant Using Robotic Waiters

If one restaurant in China is any indication of future trends in the industry, then the days of interacting with a flesh and blood waiter may soon become less common. From online cooking school students to general restaurant patrons, everyone knows that one of the most volatile aspects of the experience of dining out is the quality of the staff. While a good server can increase the quality of a meal out dramatically, an unprofessional one can sour the experience considerably. According to Fox News, a restaurant in the Northeastern Zhejiang province has taken reducing this variability to a new level by employing robotic waiters to serve it’s patrons.

Robotic wait staff
The restaurant, which is found inside a popular shopping mall within Ningbo, has recently replaced its entire wait​ staff with robots. While the idea may seem too futuristic to be practical, the machines are apparently capable of all necessary aspects of the job. Standing approximately one meter tall, they move about the kitchen and dining room of the eatery on magnetic strips that have been laid into the floor. They are programmed to carry food and drink out to tables while returning to the kitchen with orders from guests, and also have the capacity to speak basic phrases to patrons to ensure the quality of their experience. The artificial intelligence of the robots includes a 40 phrase Mandarin vocabulary and optical sensors which allow them to navigate without crashing into one another or running off course. So far, the experiment seems to be going very well. Take a look at the bots in action here.

Bottom lines and other benefits
The owner of the establishment, Lu Dike, has stated that he first invested in the robots as a way to save money over the long term in compensation for waiters. Each of the machines apparently costs the equivalent of roughly $10,000, but runs for roughly five years on a rechargeable battery. Considering the absence of potential for human error and the fact that he doesn’t need to compensate them to work, he maintains that he’s increasing his revenue. What’s more, Dike has apparently received a significant amount of inquires from customers about purchasing the robots for their own use. He explained to Fox that this could become another profitable enterprise for him when he needs to replace or update the machines:

“I get asked at least once a day if I’m prepared to sell them,” said Dike. “Who knows? Maybe it might be a good sideline.”

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