Dutch restaurant experiments with using robot waiters

A Dutch-based restauranteur got the idea for robot waiters when he saw them serving food on a visit to China. Little did he know they’d make the perfect waiters during a pandemic.

Shaosong Hu happened to order the futuristic servers for Royal Palace restaurant, which is located in the Netherlands, just before the outbreak. 

“We haven’t practiced with them that much but lately, we realized that they could be very useful,” Hu’s daughter Leah Hu told the Associated Press. “We are figuring out and testing what would be the best way to use them in conditions of 1.5-meter social distancing.” 

People might be a little more comfortable dining with a non-human entity — that is, if they’re not frightened by the robots who resemble a character from the Japanese video game franchise Mega Man.

The robots are expected to be useful when Dutch restaurants reopen on June 1 and can allow a maximum of 30 customers. The machines are even pre-programmed to understand the restaurant’s floor plan and table arrangments. 

“They are actually driving laps (around the restaurant) and supporting the work we do here,” Hu told the AP. “Normally, we are very often busy cleaning tables, collecting glasses and plates from the tables. Then these robots can take over and serve our guests as extra helpers.”

The Hu family is unconcerned about the robots making human servers obsolete. In the remote rural region, human staff members are hard enough to come by. 

“We are not concerned about that,” she said. “We are not disappearing. We are still here. They will always need people in this industry. The robots are supporting our work only.”

If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s article on one Grammy-winning artist’s mission to open the tech world to people of color.

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