At Alibaba's Shanghai restaurant, forget everything you were taught about having your phone out at the table — you'll need it to call the robots that serve you.
Fresh seafood restaurant Robot.He is located in Alibaba's Hema Supermarket, and a combination of conveyor belts, a robotic arm, and mobile carts on waist-high counters handle almost all of the waitstaff 'legwork.' They're guided by a software system that uses customer-submitted QR codes to figure out seating, ordering, and payment, via the Hema app.
But it isn't as anti-social as it sounds: As the customer walks around the supermarket choosing their fresh seafood meal, humans are there to do what they do best — interact, assist, and of course, cook. By taking out the labor cost of food runners and waiters and keeping some crucial human employees, Alibaba hopes to make its restaurant more cost-efficient. The result is a fascinating and interactive dining experience.
Here's a look at the way an order is placed at Robot.He — the restaurant where diners are served almost entirely by robots:
When a customer arrives, they're still greeted by a host or hostess.
The customer uses a check-in kiosk to find a table.
Staff is available to walk them through the steps the first time around.