Robots to replace Human Waiters at Restaurants: The Possibilities

Asimo Robot waving hand

Technological Innovations are seeping in the cooking sector rapidly. With the help of modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, the effects of automation are increasing in our daily lives. Restaurants are some of the world’s oldest businesses. The supposedly oldest restaurant is the world still runs in Madrid named Sobrino de Botin.

People visit restaurants for mainly two reasons. The first one is to eat when they feel hungry. The second reason is for meeting other people and have an experience that they would generally not have in their homes. So, the restaurant is more than just food. The ambiance, chefs, waiters, interiors, music, smell and so on matter a lot for the customer. Talking about the waiters in a restaurant, it always comes to our mind as a human.

However, this has been changed due to the development of robotics and precise engineering. Robot waiters in restaurants are no more a science fiction or a test demo in a lab. Alibaba, the Chinese internet giant has a chain of restaurants named ‘Robot.he’ where the food is served by a wheeled robot waiter instead of a human waiter.

Alibaba has been known for its automation efforts in the service and retail industry. The robotic waiter is an addition to that sector. This is an advanced and cheaper alternative to the human waiter. A human waiter in Beijing costs around 10,000 yuan per month whereas a robotic waiter can be utilised at the fraction of that cost.

This seems advanced and paints a picture of the technologically innovative society that we are living in. However, it also has another side of the story that needs as much reflection. For the current generation, unemployment has been one of the major issues alongside climate change. Though robots are a better option for restaurant owners in terms of profits, it is not good for unemployed people. Robots will trim down jobs in such restaurants. Waiters in China who earned a good living at the end of every month will now be unemployed in a moment. Alibaba has the financial prowess and organizational capabilities to introduce the robots in their restaurants but the fellow waiters have no power or even right to protest against that. The correctness and morality of this development are in the grey area and need much debate to reach a conclusion.

The discussion here, however, is not about this move is right or wrong. It is about technology. It is amazing to see a machine talking to a human, take orders and deliver the food just as if another fellow human would do. This is an affordable method, which has the potential to benefit the restaurateurs and tech companies big time. The skills required by tomorrow’s youth for employment and leading a good life are very different from the requirements of the last generation. It is crucial for the students to acquire not only had skills such as tech knowledge but also soft skills such as good communication skills and so on.

-Soumya De

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