Restaurant in China Employs Robotic Wait Staff & Chefs
The Harbin Haohai Robot Company in China has developed a robotic restaurant staff and opened a restaurant that uses them to cook, greet clients, and wait tables. The robots, which are multicolored and travel around via sensors on the floor, cost about $31,000 to $47,000 and run on batteries with a five-hour life. The move is part of a growing trend toward service robots, a market that could outpace even industrial robots in the next several years. (Source: Reuters)
Chuck, I think those are totally legitimate concerns. I hope designers of these systems--and more importantly, the implementers, not just the engineers--will take those experiences under consideration and save us all some grief. There's a lot of work going on to foster better robot/human interaction and communication. But note I said "I hope" not "I think."
Reading this story and listening to the ensuing discussion, it scares me to think of how pervsive robots will be in 50 years. Just look at how automated phone systems have proliferated in the past 30 years. And think of how frustrating those can be.
Jack, I get the same impression of the service model, but I'm not assuming anything. It's not clear from the article what recourse customers have when there's a problem, and there are always problems, eventually.
Ann, I got the impression that this particular application is almost like a a sit-down version of fast food. Not too much variation and a human enters the order to begin with. I would imagine that the idea would be something like these self-check-out stations at grocery stores (that I refuse to use for anything over 3 items). If someone does have an issue, there is probably an "overseer" available handling a number of tables.
I agree with a.saji--this model of service assumes customers know exactly what they want and that there's no problem with the food served. How do you tell the robot waiter "There's a fly in my soup" or "My steak is overdone"?
That's simply amazing but I feel the human touch will be missed here. A robot cannot get what the customer's exact expressions plus it cannot suggest based upon seeing what the customer wants at that moment itself. Robots are programmed so it will work based upon a pre-defined set of codes.
Freedonia said that, since less developed countries have many more of the type of jobs that robots typically replace--repetitive and simple tasks--those countries will experience more job replacement than more "developed" countries that have already automated and have more advanced, harder-to-replace jobs currently done by humans. For instance, China's Foxconn is on the verge of solving its labor disputes/scandals by ordering something like a million robots in the next year or so, according to various news reports.
Chuck speaks to the snooty aspect I meant in French waiters. I haven't been to France in years. From what Elizabeth said, it sounds like waiters there now are just obnoxious in the same ways they are everywhere else.
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