Robots give restaurant futuristic feel

08:17, December 23, 2010      

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A robot works in a restaurant in Jinan, Shandong province. [Photo/Life Daily]

Service with a smile also comes with a mechanical voice at the Dalu Robot restaurant, where the hotpot meals are not as famous yet as the staff.

The restaurant is touted as China's first robot hotpot eatery, where "Star Wars"-like droidscircle the room carrying trays of food in a conveyor belt-like system.

More than a dozen robots entertain, serve, greet and receive customers. The eatery opened this month in Jinan, Shandong province.

"They have a better service attitude than humans," said Li Xiaomei, 35, who was visiting the restaurant for the first time.

"Humans can be temperamental or impatient, but they don't feel tired, they just keep working and moving round and round the restaurant all night," Li said.

Inspired by space exploration, robot technology and global innovation, the restaurant's owner, Zhang Yongpei, said he hopes his restaurant will show the world China is a serious competitor in developing technology.

"I hope this new concept shows that China is forward-thinking and innovative," Zhang said.

As customers enter the dimly lit restaurant lined with blinking neon lights to simulate a futuristic environment, a female robot decorated with batting eyelashes greets people with an electronic "welcome."

During the meal, crowds of up to 100 customers, are entertained by a dancing and talking robot that looks more like a mannequin with a dress, flapping its arms around in a stiff motion.

Zhang said he hopes to roll out 30 robots _ which cost $6,000 each _ in the coming months and eventually develop robots with human-like qualities that serve customers at their table and can walk up and down the stairs.

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