Robotic waiters serve at Alibaba diners


Alibaba has launched a series of diners staffed by robotic waiters.

The initiative is designed to offer a restaurant service with higher efficiency and lower overheads on staff.

Alibaba product manager Cao Haitao, who brought the concept to fruition, said, “In Shanghai, a waiter costs up to 10,000 yuan (US$1465) per month. That’s hundreds of thousands in cost every year. And two shifts of people are needed. But we don’t need two shifts for robots and they are on duty every day.”

The diners are linked to another Alibaba-backed semi-automated business concept, Hema supermarkets, in which goods are brought to customers on a conveyor track when ordered in-store via a mobile app. There are currently 57 Hema supermarkets throughout China, and all of these will eventually launch diners with robotic waiters.

The serving robots are comparable in size to a microwave oven and navigate the restaurants on purpose-built tracks at table height.

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