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Look out, Fight for 15: Here come the robot waitresses

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A robot waitress is drawing crowds and national attention to a pizza place in Multan, Pakistan, and to the future of the automated service industry.

Osama Jafri, the robot’s engineer, said that their business has doubled since the robot’ ‘was hired’ in February.

The kitchen staff just places food on the waitress and keys in the table number– the robot does the rest. “She” is able to greet customers, serve up to 11 pounds of food, avoid obstacles, and return to the kitchen, according to Dawn.

GeoTV reported that the robot operates for up to 13 hours on a rechargeable battery, with a life expectancy up to 10 years. Jafri said that his three robots cost around $6,000 total.

Service-industry robots are not new. China has employed robot chefs since 2006.

Servers in the United States should not fear for their jobs just yet. Jafri’s robots can not take orders or communicate with customers, although Jafri plans to enhance their abilities.

But other countries have human-like robots.

A robotics team at the Amirkabir University of Technology in Iran said they are building artificially intelligent waitresses. “The robots built for the project have an artificial auditory system, [which] can easily interact with humans and speak several languages,” AUT graduate Esmaeil Mehrabi told Mehr News Agency.

“These robots can talk to humans, convey a sense of happiness or sadness through their facial expressions,” he said.

Demand for technological-assisted services has driven many restaurants overseas to innovate.

68 percent of consumers in Asia and 60 percent in the Middle East reported having ordered from a restaurant online, according to Technomic’s 2016 Top 150 Global Chain Restaurant Report.

That number drops to 32 percent of consumers in North America, although more than half of Americans choose delivery/takeout for food service.

Service robots are less common in America than overseas. A Manhattan Best Buy employs “Chloe,” a robot that can find any game, music, or movie in the store in about 30 seconds. Yotel hotel employs robots that carry luggage and clean rooms, according to Business Insider.

Businesses are also testing delivery robots to cater to big cities where customers want to pay less for delivery.

Starship technology has rolled out a pair of 20-robot fleets capable of delivering up to three miles in Washington D.C and Redwood, CA. These robots roll at 4 mph, and use its nine cameras, GPS, and sensors to read traffic lights and avoid obstacles. The business plans to slash delivery costs to around $1.

While robots may not be coming for U.S server jobs just yet, kiosks already have already replaced many fast food workers. As robots become cheaper, batteries more powerful, and labor cost more expensive, United States’ businesses will follow overseas trends and choose cheaper robots over human employees. But as they displace low-wage positions, they will create more, and often higher-paying jobs, while driving down costs.

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