Back in 2014, HRSBT reported on the rise of robotics in the service industry, from robotic waiters to robotic cars—nothing was safe from being taken over by technology. However, it appears this trend was short-lived, as three separate restaurants in China are now laying off its robotic workers.
In all fairness to the robots, two of the restaurants closed down. The BBC has reported that the third restaurant has reverted back to all human servers, saving only one of its robots. The reasoning behind the layoffs were exactly what you’d expect; they weren’t good at their jobs!
Used as a gimmick to get people in the doors, these robots were only good for just that. When it came to the actual “serving” portion of their jobs, the robots were not good at the programmed task of serving food and drinks. According to the staff at one restaurant, “Their services were limited. They couldn’t pour water for customers, nor could they take orders.”
According to Zhang Yun, a specialist at Guangdong University of Technology, “While robots are good at repetitive tasks in manufacturing, they’re still unable to perform autonomously in jobs such as waiting, which require[s] interaction with unpredictable humans.” So until technology advances, the closest thing we’ll see to a robot waiter will be those tiny computer “waiters” at Chili’s … at least you can play games on them while you wait for humans to bring your food!