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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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