Chinese restaurants started to replace their workers with robots as early as 2006. Though some have proven pretty incompetent, they’re still cheaper than human wait staff — the approximate $1,200 up-front cost per robot is just a couple months’ salary for an average server in China (though robot prices vary).
Robot waiters seem to have taken off in China because they’re novel and fun, rather than for their efficiency. Many robots in Chinese restaurants appear anthropomorphic and toy-like — The Wall Street Journal writes that the Chinese even refer to their robots as jiqiren (机器人), literally meaning “machine people.”
Here’s a look at seven Chinese restaurants that have replaced some of their staff with robo-waiters.