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Restaurant in China Employs Robotic Wait Staff & Chefs
2/18/2013

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)
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)

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mrmikel
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Iron
Fast Food Robots
mrmikel   2/18/2013 9:18:56 AM
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Since most fast food service is pretty robotic anyway, why not.  At least while they are working, they don't have a bad day, an attitude or use their cell phone to call their friends...I hope.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Fast Food Robots
Cabe Atwell   2/18/2013 7:10:38 PM
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In a polite society, all is well for the bots. Anywhere else, they will be knocked to the floor – guaranteed. I am surprised this isn't used more. I suppose paying someone $4 USD and hour plus tips is more cost effecting than the $10K+ bots.

 

C

mrmikel
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Re: Fast Food Robots
mrmikel   2/18/2013 7:31:26 PM
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$4/hr....not here.  Federal minimum wage is $7.25 and state minimum in CA is $8, $8.95 in OR and $9.19 in WA.


At fed min that is over $15,000/year.  10K robots look cheap!

tekochip
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Platinum
Re: Fast Food Robots
tekochip   2/18/2013 8:58:51 PM
The people I knew in food service were paid below minimum wage since it was assumed their tips would make up the rest.  I just hope the robots never drip machine oil on the food if they don't like the customer.


Greg M. Jung
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Replacement Workers
Greg M. Jung   2/18/2013 9:25:32 PM
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I think that these robots make more novelty and entertainment sense than financial sense in China.  I don't see them replacing Chinese restaurant workers soon due to their high investment cost and the lower hourly wages in China.  However, if U.S. restaurants find a way to profitably incorporate these types of robots in their workstream, I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing them co-exist with human workers in the future.

NadineJ
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Re: Fast Food Robots
NadineJ   2/18/2013 11:36:45 PM
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$10K is the initial cost.  Maintenance adds to the annual spending.

Humans are a better choice when working with other humans.  For now, robots can't think for themsleves or react quickly to unexpected situations.

I agree with most here.  This is novelty.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Fast Food Robots
Elizabeth M   2/19/2013 3:23:36 AM
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Good point, Cabe. In the states the bots would have ot have some kind of "idiot defense reflection" move that could keep people from knocking them down or otherwise defacing or harming them. I agree with you that I don't think the U.S. is quite ready for this sort of thing. But the Asians seem to love it...as you point out, they are generally more polite.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Fast Food Robots
Elizabeth M   2/19/2013 3:38:33 AM
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Yes, Nadine, I tend to agree as well. i have done stories on not only robot waiters but also robot bartenders, but think about the personal element you get when you go to a bar or restaurant and encounter the person serving you. It's just not the same. The thing is, I live in Portugal, and service here isn't nearly to the quality level or personal level (depending where you are) than it is in the U.S.--tipping also isn't such a big deal. In Asia I imagine it's the same--people may not have nor want that feeling of personal interaction with a waiter or bartender. So perhaps it's the cultural differences that make these bots more viable for use there.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Fast Food Robots
Elizabeth M   2/19/2013 3:39:33 AM
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Good point, mrmikel. These might be ideal for fast food, but not in a proper restaurant, as other commenters have pointed out.

apresher
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Robotic Wait Staff
apresher   2/19/2013 8:28:29 AM
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This concept is interesting but I wonder if it will ever move beyond novelty status.  Certainly for highly repetitive chores, such as washing dishes, robotics could make inroads.  But given the high initial cost and lack of flexibility, not sure how much impact it will have.  Interesting story to say the least.  Thanks.

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