Robot waiters in Indian restaurant

Restaurant in India replaces waiting staff with robots

Image credit: Robot Theme Restaurant, Chennai

A restaurant in the southern Indian city of Chennai has introduced service robots to bring customers’ food and take away their dirty plates.

The Chennai restaurant, formerly named “Momo”, was renamed “Robot Theme Restaurant” and covered with robot-themed décor as it launched the novel waiting service.

Karthik Kannan and Venkatesh Rajendran, the founding partners of the Thai and Chinese restaurant, told Reuters in a video interview that they decided that bringing robots into the restaurant to serve food was “something different which is not there in India”.

Customer service at the restaurant is heavily automated. Customers order food using tablets available at each table. As the robots are not required to take orders, they are left with relatively straightforward, repetitive tasks that do not require complex and computationally expensive natural language processing.

The humanoid robots – complete with classically feminine bodies, sturdy bases and colourful neck scarves – are capable of navigating around the restaurant, taking food and drinks to the customers and collecting dirty dishes to take back to the kitchen for cleaning.

Navigating around a restaurant full of people requires the robots to be equipped with sophisticated sensors and software to process sensory data in order to avoid collisions with objects and people.

Kannan and Rajendran’s restaurant is not the first to replace human waiting staff with robots; restaurants in China have been contemplating the use of robots in catering since 2006 with the launch of Artificial Intelligent Cooking (AIC), a humanoid robot chef capable of cooking a range of dishes. A number of restaurants in China – including a Wall-E themed restaurant in Hefei – employ robot waiting staff.

In early 2018, dozens of CaliBurger restaurants in California will begin introducing a burger-flipping robot, “Flippy”, to their kitchens to prepare burger patties. According to John Miller, chairman of Cali Group, grilling burgers is an unpopular task for staff, and employing Flippy will allow human staff to focus on more engaging tasks, such as designing new dishes and engaging customers.

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