WATCH: Qatar adopts global trend of employing robot servers
Qatar’s desire to be ahead of the curve is not limited to one domain. It touches several areas but is certainly more prominent in the realm of technology.
Joining the global bandwagon of automating jobs in the service industry, Qatar’s restaurants have begun using robot waiters to serve food to diners.
One such restaurant, Canaan Gardens at Hyatt Plaza, welcomed its first non-human employee on board in November last year.
The robot is given an Arabic name, ‘Karam,’ which means generous.
Karam may not be on duty all the time but has been a fascinating addition to the team.
The restaurant uses Karam’s services on special occasions such as Eid-al-Fitr where she doles out giveaways to charm customers.
Karam’s presence at the restaurant has been a treat for customers, who often stop to take selfies with the robot waitress, according to the restaurant manager.
Soon Karam will have a ‘robot buddy’ for moral support amongst the human clan. The manager said the restaurant plans to expand its non-human employee strength to two to be able to cater to the diners on the second floor!
Karam is not the only robot server in Qatar!
That’s right. There’s another 5 ft 11 inch tall, automated server at a restaurant called The Yellow Chilli in The Pearl Qatar.
Named Amy, this robot waitress would politely say, “excuse me, you’re on my walking route,” if you happen to be in her way.
The Rise of the Robot
It seems that this global trend is on the rise. Countries like Japan, China, Canada, the US, Australia, Hungary, and more recently, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal, among others, have embraced the technology.
Photo Credit: thehypedgeek.com
Quite similar to humans, these service-oriented robots have different sizes, colors, appearance, and languages (yes, they can be programmed to speak the local language of a country!)
If you looked at the e-commerce giant, Ali Baba’s website, you can find a wide range of robots priced between USD2,500 up to USD9,000 (that’s roughly about QAR 9000 to QAR32,500).
Did you know?
While many would think the idea of hiring robot servers in restaurants is fairly new, according to the Guinness World Records, a restaurant named Two Panda Deli in California, US, was the first to employ two robot waiters about three and a half decades ago, in 1983!
Photo Credit: cyberneticzoo.com
Known as Tanbo R-1 and Tanbo R-2, these robots were programmed to be courteous to customers at the Chinese eatery.
The duo cost a whopping $20,000 each!
Sauntering across the restaurant, the robots would interact with diners in three different languages, English, Spanish and Japanese. According to the restaurant owner, hiring non-human staff meant no issues related to leaves, attitude, or behavior.
A customer said he was happy with the waiters as they did not talk back or require any tips!
However, the robots were machines after all. Their batteries had to be charged frequently and they would often misinterpret signals leading to messy situations at the eatery.
To robot or not to robot…
Why hire a robot when there are thousands of unemployed people across the world?
According to news reports from around the world, restaurant owners who have employed robot waiters are happy about these things: greater efficiency, lower running costs, a unique and attractive feature to draw in customers, and a means to imply technological advancement.
Photo Credit: Business Insider
In contrast to this, robot servers may still need to be partly controlled by humans! Like in the case of Karam at Canaan Gardens, one of the human staff members controls it through a laptop.
Similar to any technological product, there may be unexpected incidents where the entire functionality of the robot simply goes berserk.
Although creators of service robots are trying to humanize these machines as much as possible, they may still lack certain emotions that humans have. Known as humanoids, some of these robot servers look eerily like humans!
There’s been a lot of debate on the need to hire robot servers while many countries face high rates of unemployment. However, the technology may be put to a greater use, with Japan’s example, where a café allowed differently-abled people to control the robot waiters and earn a living.
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