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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Goodbye fast food jobs? First robot restaurant opens in China


robot restaurant
© Xinhua
Harbin is one of the most genuinely unique places in China. Though it's known for its annual ice festival, the city has many other marvels like a huge tiger park and a trainthat can travel faster than 300 km/h in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius. These are all cool, but Harbin is apparently not a city to rest on its laurels. 

The Robot Restaurant opened in Harbin in June and has taken the F&B industry in China further into the mechanized world. Robot Restaurant staffs a total of 20 robots as waiters, cooks and busboys. Turns out Noodle Bot might need to expand its repertoire if it hopes to compete with Robot Restaurant's 18 different kinds of service robots. 

Upon arrival, Usher Robot welcomes customers to the restaurant and directs them to the seating area. Patrons can then place their order, which is relayed by humans to one of the four the robot chefs who are able to cook various styles of dumplings and noodles. The robot chefs even determine the temperature and ingredients for each dish and usually take about 3 minutes to prepare the average order. These robot chefs are no slouches either. The kitchen staff is able to prepare a menu of over 30 dishes--perfect for a family dinner. 

Waitress robots carry the food to customers by following a track that uses sensors placed under the floor for spatial awareness. Additionally, each robot comes equipped with its own sensors, helping it to avoid obstructions such as a kid that's in its way. 

The robots were designed and built by a local firm, the Harbin Haohai Robot Company. Each robot costs between 200,000 to 300,000 Chinese yuan (US$31,500 - US$47,000) with an additional 5 million yuan (US$790,000) invested into the restaurant itself. With the average Robot Restaurant meal costing less than 62 yuan (US$10), the restaurant is not meant to earn Harbin Haohai money. Instead, it turns out the restaurant is just a brilliant piece of marketing

Bottom line: You may want to think about a new profession if you're considering working in the food and service industry in China.


Jeff Eisenhauer
CNET Asia

Coming to replace U.S jobs soon: Humanoid-stye robots will prepare hamburgers, eliminate fast food jobs
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