Robots enter catering industry
Updated: 2013-01-21 13:30
HARBIN - A restaurant on Central Street in Harbin city, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang province, offers service with a difference.
The Haohai Robot Restaurant is like a scene from a film with robots resembling movie characters, such as Optimus Prime and Wall.E, serving customers each day.
Around 20 robots work at the restaurant, which has served more than 10,000 customers since it opened in June 2012.
The robots operate as entertainers, greeters, cooks and wait on tables. They cook Sichuan cuisine and northeastern food.
"It's amazing. It makes me feel I'm in the future. The robots cannot only speak, their dishes also taste delicious," said a woman surnamed Zhang.
In fact, people who come here indulge in their curiosity rather than appease their appetite. Most of the guests just take pictures.
Liu Hasheng, chief engineer of the restaurant said, "Almost 60 percent of guests are parents and children, and tourists account for 20 percent. People come here not only for a meal but to experience the world of science fiction."
Liu runs Harbin Haohai Robot Co Ltd, developing and producing robots.
The restaurant is a part of the company and the robots were developed by Liu and his research team.
Each robot has a dozen facial expressions and speak using short simple sentences. Ultrasonic detection devices prevent the robots from hitting any barriers.
Two robots are even attached to the ceiling and can serve dishes from up above, placing dishes of food on tables.
"The robot restaurant is a modernization revolution in the catering and serving industry. It's a meaningful and an irresistible trend to introduce robots into people's daily lives, as it can save on manpower and increase fun during meals," said Liu.
Humans are needed in the restaurant but only to assist the robots.
"After seven months in operation, the restaurant is recognized and is welcomed by our customers. We also keep improving the robots' functions and work efficiency, as well as increase the variety of dishes," said Liu.