Saturday 10 December 2016

These able androids are no dumb waiters

Published 23/12/2010 | 09:00

A customer collects a drink from a robot waiter cycling around a restaurant in Jinan in eastern China's Shandong province
A customer collects a drink from a robot waiter cycling around a restaurant in Jinan in eastern China's Shandong province

Service with a smile also comes with an electronic voice at China's new Dalu Robot restaurant.

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The meals are not yet as famous as the staff, who never lose their patience and never take tips.

The restaurant, which opened this month in Jinan in northern Shandong province, is touted as China's first robot hotpot eatery where robots resembling 'Star Wars' droids circle the room carrying trays of food in a conveyor belt-like system.

More than a dozen robots operate in the restaurant as entertainers, servers, greeters and receptionists. Each robot has a motion sensor that tells it to stop when someone is in its path so customers can reach for dishes they want.

Inspired by space exploration and robot technology, the restaurant's owner, Zhang Yongpei, said he hoped his restaurant would show the world China was a serious competitor in technology.

"I hope this new concept shows that China is forward-thinking and innovative," he said.

Mr Zhang said he hoped to roll out 30 robots -- which cost £3,870 (€4,545) each -- in the coming months and eventually develop robots with human-like qualities that serve customers at their table and can walk up and down the stairs.

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