A Look Inside China’s Robot Restaurant (video)

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China's Robot Restaurant

Old fashioned-looking robots serving drinks. I think R2D2 did it better.

A restaurant in the city of Jinan in China is making international news by employing some unforgettable waiters. The Dalu Robot Restaurant features six custom built robot servers with some that resemble  the classic automatons from 1950s science fiction, and others that are basically wheeled tables. There are also two more feminine robots that greet customers as they enter. While people cook the food, the service bots deliver the meals by "riding" bicycles along a well marked track. Using the combination of human and machine labor, the restaurant can currently serve about 100 customers at a time at 21 different tables. Shandong Dalu Science and Technology Company, which created the restaurant, has plans to expand to 40 machines. You can take a glimpse inside the Dalu Robot Restaurant in the video below. I can't say they provide much witty banter, but the robots do deliver the food rather well. Do you think they expect a tip?

The Dalu Robot Restaurant may be cool-looking but it's far from a technological innovation. Take away the gold-painted foam exteriors of the robotic wait staff and you basically just have a fancier form of an automat. It all comes down to presentation, really. In that regard I think the Dalu is a bit lacking. The robots aren't exceptionally well articulated, and they don't really do much besides ride around. At the Hajime Restaurant in Bangkok, robot servers will actually dance and sing for customers. Of course, I shouldn't be too hard on the Shandong Dalu Science and Tech Company's first venture into robotic eateries. Their robots are custom built while the Hajime adapted world class Motoman SD-10s. Maybe the additional robots they hope to add will be able to perform a greater variety of services, and come in a more exciting appearance. Of course, I'm not from Jinan. Maybe the 1950s robot look is really chic there. In either case, I should just be glad that the count of robot restaurants is actually climbing. The robotic pleasure barges I was promised long long ago still seem far far away.

China's Robot Restaurant has greeters

Welcome to the Uncanny Valley...er, I mean the Dalu Robot Restaurant.

[image credits: News.cn/Cui Janshi, eChinacities.com]

[sources: OddityCentral, PeopleDaily]

Discussion — 8 Responses

  • Kids And Robots December 28, 2010 on 8:28 pm

    Hey! Customers will love this.. At least for the novelty factor. Hope the robots are at least half as fast as us humans… and they may keep their poorly paid waiter robotic jobs.



  • Sumatra December 29, 2010 on 7:46 am

    I like robotics and I am looking forward to advances in robotics. And, this is the reason why advances are needed.

    These “robots” look more like dolls!

  • Joey1058 December 29, 2010 on 9:56 pm

    It’s simply a question of time. Traditional wait staff will be shuffled into the kitchen or into maintenance. And as for tipping? Who says the bot can’t have a tip jar attached to it’s table, or a tip jar sitting on the register counter for gratuities on the way out the door? Once the bots are running both the dining room and the kitchen, well, you might as well start calling them automats again!

  • Genny sorap December 30, 2010 on 12:17 pm

    A lot of the food that we eat is already made by computer controlled machines so in part we eat their food. I would eat at your restaurant only if the food was good! But some people is what makes the food good so I do like eating at restaurants that have good chefs! Just remember that a computer is only as good as the person who programs it!

  • Gabriel Alexander December 30, 2010 on 4:59 pm

    At least we won’t have to worry about waiters slipping something “extra” in our food anymore.

  • southbeachjava January 1, 2011 on 9:16 am

    It is big achievement of China and Dalu Robot Restaurant makers.In addition to this, they will do more better in 2011. It may say by him statements.

  • borgstandard January 2, 2011 on 10:12 am

    ‘Traditional wait staff will be shuffled into the kitchen or into maintenance.’
    Or into the unemployment statistics. There’s only a certain amount of slack in the system, and there will be less as robots move into the kitchen, maintenance and other areas. I know it’s been prophesied before that machines will cause permanent mass unemployment and each time the economy has expanded to provide new opportunities (not without shocks and suffering, mind you) but this time it really looks like the machines and other technologies such as reprap are going to become so flexible that they could cause major irreplaceable job extinction. I think it’s would be a good idea for Singularity Hub, IEET, Less wrong, accelerating futures and other future minded websites and organizations to get together and at least present a plan B for governments to consider. Just in case this time the boy who cried wolf really does get eaten.

  • Replica Watches March 10, 2011 on 6:53 am

    This is pretty creepy. I live in China, but Jinan is too far away for me to visit, otherwise I would go check this place out.