China eateries fire robot chefs, waiters

BEIJING (TIP) : About 10 robots employed as chefs and waiters in restaurants in China have been fired after their owners found them not smart enough. Employing artificial intelligent robots in restaurants has not proved such a smart idea after all, media reports said. Restaurant owners claimed they were just not clever or sophisticated enough to do their jobs properly. The move comes only a few years after a catering business in Xiamen, in southern Fujian province, employed robots instead of people.

Another restaurant, which opened last October, made headlines for using four automated waiters that were able to take orders and deliver food to customers’ tables. Now only two of them remain, to greet customers, with the other two apparently canned. While the robot waiters were an excellent gimmick to woo customers, they were not quite so good at their programmed task of serving. “They were merely standing there to look fancy,” a worker said.

Another robot-themed restaurant closed down less than six months after its opening, with diners complaining that dishes prepared by the robot chefs were “unpalatable”. “The food was not tasty at all and the whole restaurant was very smoky because of the poor cooking skills of the robot chefs,” one diner said.

For a restaurant to employ a robot worker it has to pay about $7,700 for each and then several hundred dollars each month for its upkeep, including repairs, plus electricity. “Human beings can react to their environment effectively, but these robots are not able to do so,” Sun Qimin, chairman of Siert, another robotmaker, said.

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