A robot delivers food in a restaurant in the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)
More Chinese companies are now opening smart restaurants in a bid to attract more customers, including famous hot pot restaurant Haidilao and e-commerce giants JD and Alibaba.
Haidilao opened its first smart restaurant in October 2018 to entice more customers, where a wall-length screen, QR code games, and an automatic reservation checker greet customers.
Inside the restaurant, a number of screens display cherry blossom forests, snow-capped mountains and shooting stars.
Robotic arms pick out the correct dishes from a constant temperature warehouse in the kitchen, and cute little AGV (automated guided vehicle) robots whiz around the restaurant to deliver orders to customers. The RFID chip, located on the bottom of plates, records food information to help the restaurant identify expired food.
Technological progress, high labor costs, and greater service demands are behind the popularity of smart restaurants, said Fen Enyuan, vice chairman of China Cuisine Association.
Application of robots and intelligent technologies can cut costs, improve efficiency and attract customers as the catering industry faces challenges in operating efficiency and customers’ changing needs, said Tang Siyu, head of JD X future’ restaurant.
Experts also pointed out that the smart catering industry is not just about cooking robots and AGV robots, which are both still in the initial stages of development.