Chinese Restaurant Owner Says Robot Noodle Maker Doing “A Good Job!”

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[Source: arkazlive via YouTube]

[Source: arkazlive via YouTube]

Noodle peelers should probably start looking for other things to do around the kitchen – there’s just no competing with these robots. Not only are they saving restaurants in China money in wages, they can work rapidly and tirelessly for hours.

We reported on the robots, invented by restaurant owner Cui Runguan, last August. Now, we’re hearing from another restaurant owner who has had one of the robots in his “employ” for a month. How is the indefatigable noodle-maker working out at the Jinhe Noodle Shop in Beijing? The restaurant owner, with the last name Zhao, loves it and tells China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency that “It does a good job!”

Runguan’s robots peel noodle strips from a firm piece of dough and tosses them directly into boiling water “before diners’ eyes can follow the whole process.” To Zhao and a growing number of restaurant owners in China, choosing robots over human noodle cooks is a no-brainer. While a cook doing the same job would make about 40,000 yuan ($6,400) per year, the robot cost him just 10,000 yuan ($1,600). And no human chef can work so tirelessly.

China is expected to be the world's largest market for robots by 2014 [Source: arkazlive via YouTube]

China is expected to be the world's largest market for robots by 2014 [Source: arkazlive via YouTube]

Its price is already down from $2,000 this past August, which is no doubt a big reason why more than 3,000 restaurants that have already relegated their noodle-making to the robot. As the technology improves and the cost to build and run the robot drops, business will only get better for Runguan, who has received four patents for the technology.

That humans can be replaced by robots that do the job faster and cheaper is an idea that now pervades Chinese employers. “Chinese companies usually start considering robots when the payment for a skilled worker exceeds 50,000 yuan ($8,060) a year,” Tan Xueke, a manager at the Xinsong Robot Automation Company in Shenynang, told Xinhua News Agency.

The repetitive action that goes into preparing certain foods such as noodles makes automation an obvious choice. In Japan robots are already being used to make sushi, and a robot in San Francisco can serve up 340 hamburgers an hour. But while robotic cooks provide restaurants a novelty for customers and savings for owners, other robots are invading China’s workplace on a much grander scale. Most notably is Foxconn who, last November, began replacing 1 million jobs performed by humans with robotic automation. The metamorphosis is advancing quickly. In late February the company announced it put a freeze on hiring new entry-level workers. This was due in part to a high worker retention rate following pay increases, but it’s also a conscious decision to accelerate the automation of their factories.

And as prices for the robots drop, they’ll continue to invade the workplace at increasing an increasing pace. Already China is expected to become the world’s largest robot market next year. And as entry-level jobs become scarce, out-of-the-job workers such as those at Foxconn and Jinhe Noodle Shop will find the new reality hard to swallow.

[Source: Zoominuk via YouTube]

Peter Murray

Peter Murray was born in Boston in 1973. He earned a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore studying gene expression in the neocortex. Following his dissertation work he spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow at the same university studying brain mechanisms of pain and motor control. He completed a collection of short stories in 2010 and has been writing for Singularity Hub since March 2011.

Discussion — 14 Responses

  • Gorgand Grandor April 20, 2013 on 5:34 am

    All this stuff building and building shows more and more the necessity of a basic income guarantee/universal welfare. It’s either that or society diverges further into two classes, those who own robots who can do pretty much everything for them, and those who don’t. The latter would have no labor power and would basically have to revert to subsistence farming.

    On the other hand, perhaps that’s a too grim prognosis. Eventually, if robots can create robots, then it all it takes is just ONE civic minded private owner to gift new creation of machines for the public good, and at that point nobody is picking up the monetary tab, because it’s about energy, and resources, which are in vast abundance on Earth and being ever more liberated by technology.

    That’s then though, when we long reach the point of no labor in the loop. What about now? That’s why the welfare state must expand, but then so will taxes on firms which might ultimately put a break on us reaching a world without necessary human labor. What can we do?

    It occurs to me that some sectors of an economy must be automated faster than others if the lower classes are to survive. The problem with automation is that it pushes people out of work in economies where not all work is automated, which means that wages must be paid, and therefore goods must have a cost. One way of tackling that is to make sure that the sectors which get automated the fastest are the most fundamental ones, like agriculture, and then food (as in the article), at least then, while people may be fired from jobs in the food sector, there will still be other jobs available, which means that these people can earn a wage, and they will be able to afford food, which should be going down in price as production costs fall and supply expands. In the very long term, there is going to have to be a larger welfare state though.

    • Christoph Obrecht Gorgand Grandor April 21, 2013 on 1:34 pm

      I see what you mean in your comment Gorgand. At least I think I do. After reading the article, right before scrolling down to the comment section, my first thought was similar to your opening statement. I figure if robots are going to take people out of the workforce equation then the business owner stands to gain in profit margin. Great for the owner, bad for the worker. So it stands to reason in my mind, the money gained at the worker’s loss could be re-allocated say in a safe investment approach that yields an output for the use of and betterment of the now out of work population. I imagine it would be safe to say that the out of work could receive the basic needs for daily living while being able to receive training in other fields. Of course this is far enough down the road since we haven’t reached critical mass status, that a program of this magnitude is hard to visualize. Maybe at some point in the future someone will come along and figure out what is being lost on the public at large and calculate a formula to meet their needs.

      • Gorgand Grandor Christoph Obrecht April 22, 2013 on 11:06 am

        It’s definitely also possible for some degree of increased education drives for a general populace literacy of computer systems, so that more people can do the remaining tech jobs, but I wonder if there aren’t only so many jobs to do, and you’d still end up with the masses, in general, out of work completely. Or perhaps society could move to a new system of rotation of work.

        All this stuff seems so bizarre to us now, and it may be far down the road in some sense, but still, sooner than many think. Society and the political establishment need to think this through in a way that respects organic development, while establishing a support structure for the transition. Apart from the smaller communities we belong to, this debate isn’t really being had now, or at least it’s just nervous murmurs under the surface.

        • imgay Gorgand Grandor April 23, 2013 on 12:03 pm

          y’all-a-buncha slack-jawed faggots

      • Joachim Stephanus Christoph Obrecht April 24, 2013 on 4:48 am

        “So it stands to reason in my mind, the money gained at the worker’s loss could be re-allocated say in a safe investment approach that yields an output for the use of and betterment of the now out of work population.”

        So why would you want to automate the process in the first place, as you won’t see the resulting profits in the first place?

        Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

    • Gilbert Midonnet Gorgand Grandor May 1, 2013 on 6:17 pm

      The solution for employment is simple. Get rid of technology. Break the looms else everyone would be out of a job. (Look up the Luddites.) 80% of people used to work on farms. Now 2%. How come 78%+ unemployment isn’t the norm? Look at the movies from the 50s and 60s and see the huge secretarial pools. Those are gone now.

      If you really believe in what you’re saying how about this – lets outlaw cement trucks and have people mix concrete by hand – think of all the additional jobs that would create.

      Guys wake up – the labor theory of wealth makes no sense.

      • Gilbert Midonnet Gilbert Midonnet May 1, 2013 on 6:22 pm

        Posted too soon.

        The above statements not withstanding – there will be a time in the not-to-distant-future when all basic needs will be so cheap to produce that the basics could and will be easily provided to all.

        There will still be innovation. There will still be cutting edge technology. There will still be need for human ingenuity and drive.

  • Gerry Kessell-Haak April 24, 2013 on 6:30 pm

    Oh come on. How is this different from any other existing form of automation? All they’ve done here is create a machine for automating something fairly trivial, and slap a robot-like torso on it.


  • Shaun Patsy April 26, 2013 on 9:08 am

    Our future is heading towards the relationship of man and machines. And we should know how to operate them so If you like working with computers and understanding how they function take a look at , they offer alot of training and background and even have courses online too.

  • Bump May 28, 2014 on 6:54 am