Photo Credit: CHARLIE SMITH / Georgia Strait

Hello Robot Kitty

Chinese robots with freaky pussy cat faces could change the restaurant experience

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Robots join the serving staff at two Vancouver Island restaurants

Two Vancouver Island restaurants think they have a solution to the labour shortage – robots. Yes, and they’ll even sing happy birthday on demand, complete with flashing multi-coloured lights. android

Called the BellaBot, this robot with a cat-like digital face that changes expressions, has been put to work by Clair Zhang, co-owner of Nanaimo’s Driftwood Restaurant.

According to Zang, the new robotic staff member, which they have nicknamed “Bella Holt,” is “really useful.” In a recent story for the Times Colonist, the restaurateur said the robot is mainly used for delivering takeout meals from the kitchen to customers waiting at the front door.

Dharmendar Sohal, the owner of Mantra, has also added one of these robots to its staff, acquired on a 3-year lease-to-own program from Edmonton supplier GreenCo Robots. He called these imports, made by the Chinese company PuduTech, “a good helping hand.”

While Mantra was the first restaurant in Victoria to use a robot, it was not the first in BC. Happy Lamb Hot Pot in Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre was the first to use serving droids.

Mantra’s Sohal said customers appear happy when they see Robbie the robot, especially youngsters, he said. Apparently, when children pet the robot, it smiles, its eyes move, and it meows.  

It sounds sort of scary. But according to GreenCo, these non-wage earning robots are customer service marathon machines that can work an entire shift on a 4.5-hour charge. Each one passes a 73,000 km endurance test and can carry more than 130 pounds of tableware at one time on its shelves.

Could this be the way of the restaurants’ future?

It appears so. According to some estimates, robots are already replacing workers and slaving away in more than 2,000 eateries worldwide.

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