Restaurants in China are replacing waiters with robots

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Chinese restaurants started to replace their workers with robots as early as 2006. Though some have proven pretty incompetent, they're still cheaper than human wait staff - the approximate $1,200 up-front cost per robot is just a couple months' salary for an average server in China (though robot prices vary).

Robot waiters seem to have taken off in China because they're novel and fun, rather than for their efficiency. Many robots in Chinese restaurants appear anthropomorphic and toy-like - The Wall Street Journal writes that the Chinese even refer to their robots as jiqiren (???), literally meaning "machine people."

Here's a look at seven Chinese restaurants that have replaced some of their staff with robo-waiters.

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These ten robot waiters serve customers in Chengdu, China, carrying dishes around and giving simple greetings to customers.

These ten robot waiters serve customers in Chengdu, China, carrying dishes around and giving simple greetings to customers.

They cost around $11,310 each when they were bought in 2014.

They cost around $11,310 each when they were bought in 2014.

A "Wall-E"-themed dining hall in Hefei, China uses 30 of these robots, which can accommodate 200 customers.

A "Wall-E"-themed dining hall in Hefei, China uses 30 of these robots, which can accommodate 200 customers.

Robots can even take up cooking jobs, like slicing noodles or doing simple prep tasks.

Robots can even take up cooking jobs, like slicing noodles or doing simple prep tasks.

"Robot-sliced noodles are tastier, too,” one robot restaurant manager told the Wall Street Journal. “The texture is softer, more even.”

"Robot-sliced noodles are tastier, too,” one robot restaurant manager told the Wall Street Journal. “The texture is softer, more even.”

Real chefs oversee the robot cooks to make sure they don't malfunction on the job.

Real chefs oversee the robot cooks to make sure they don't malfunction on the job.

These robot waiters in Yiwu, China, are designated as female and male.

These robot waiters in Yiwu, China, are designated as female and male.

The female server is named "Little Peach."

The female server is named "Little Peach."

And the male robot is named "Little Blue."

And the male robot is named "Little Blue."

Both run on magnetic tracks to deliver meals.

Both run on magnetic tracks to deliver meals.

Such tracks can support more than just robots — this bot in Yinan brings in dishes on the back of a bike.

Such tracks can support more than just robots — this bot in Yinan brings in dishes on the back of a bike.

This robot-themed restaurant in Suzhou, China has 15 robots on staff.

This robot-themed restaurant in Suzhou, China has 15 robots on staff.

Four of the robots act as waiters, one is part of the welcome staff, and the other ten are on reserve for entertainment.

Four of the robots act as waiters, one is part of the welcome staff, and the other ten are on reserve for entertainment.

This restaurant in Harbin, China, employs 20 robots. Most robots in Chinese restaurants are limited to simple mobile interactions, and can't respond to requests or hold heavy dishes.

This restaurant in Harbin, China, employs 20 robots. Most robots in Chinese restaurants are limited to simple mobile interactions, and can't respond to requests or hold heavy dishes.

That's why humans are still needed. 20 robots on a magnetic track can't run a whole restaurant, but they can be entertaining diversions.

That's why humans are still needed. 20 robots on a magnetic track can't run a whole restaurant, but they can be entertaining diversions.
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