Robots serve up food and fun in Budapest cafe

They can serve up food and drink, tell jokes, dance with the kids or just hang out for a chat with customers

Reuters January 26, 2019
A robot waiter serves customers at a cafe in Budapest, Hungary, January 24, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

BUDAPEST: The robots at the Enjoy Budapest Cafe can do it all - they can serve up food and drink, tell jokes, dance with the kids or just hang out for a chat with customers.

The cafe, opened by IT company E-Szoftverfejlesztő in the Hungarian capital, is staffed by a whole team of robots that aim to help familiarize the public with the technological revolution in automation and artificial intelligence.

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The robot waiters follow fixed paths to deliver food and drink orders to customers, who are asked to keep out of the robots’ way.

Others serve up entertainment, such as Pepper, a “receptionist” robot that can hold a conversation and also dance with customers.

Developed by Japanese company Softbank, Pepper needed to be modified to be able to hear customers in the noisy environment of a cafe, owner Tibor Csizmadia says.

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From online reviews customers appear to be charmed by Pepper’s antics and were forgiving of the laborious service style of her ‘waiter’ colleagues.

Despite fears that increasing automation and artificial intelligence will take away employment from humans, Enjoy Budapest Cafe’s robots aren’t putting anyone out of a job yet.

“We actually employ twice as many people as before, because to operate 16 to 20 robots from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. we need to have IT specialists in the background,” Csizmadia says.

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