Robot Waiters -- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

hajime robot restaurantEveryone, I've got fantastic news. It's a bright, bold new day for us all. Behold, the robot waiters! They're on the march throughout Asia, serving diners in Japan, South Korea, China, and Hong Kong.

Alas, it looks like we're still a few R&D years away from seeing robot waiters keep up with human robots. Some of them can respond to verbal commands, but they have to follow a fixed route through restaurants when they deliver your food, and they can't really answer questions. (Don't even think about asking for your salad dressing on the side.) Think of them more as vending machines on wheels. And it doesn't look like they're a money-saver for restaurant owners, either. A robot waiter can cost almost half a million dollars.

But why be such a pessimist? I mean, really, aside from costing too much money, not being able to hold a conversation, and not being able to dodge out of the way of a toddler, what could possibly go wrong with robot waiters?


Okay, fine, suppose you enter your order on the robot's keypad and it has auto-correct. So you type in "gelato" and it comes out "fellat..." oh no! 

And suppose your kids think the robot is part of the restaurant entertainment -- and they run out of their seats and start climbing all over the robot, causing it to topple over and crush Grandma's right foot? (Um, right, my kid would never do that, either... I'm just saying.)

And suppose there's a fire in the kitchen and it sets off the sprinkler system and the robots short circuit? And then they all turn evil and take over the restaurant -- after the firemen put out the fire, that is. But what if we have robot firemen, too, and the robots all join forces?

And finally, what happens if some of the waiter robots escape from a South Korean restaurant and find their way into North Korea? Then, at last, Kim Jong-il would finally have the technology he needs to wage war on the West! Or, at least, take over the world's Olive Gardens. Either scenario is equally terrifying.

But let's not dwell on such unpleasantness. Let's dance!

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