Afghanistan has its first robotic waiter – but is that a good thing?
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One fast-food restaurant in Afghanistan recently made a buzz by employing a robot as a waiter. Many customers duly headed to the Times Restaurant in Kabul to see this high-end tech in action. Interestingly, just by having this robot in Afghanistan's capital as a waiter has highlighted some of the concerns among the country's conservative families. For example many of these families have not been happy with having male waiters, so this robot waiter has solved a problem.
Four months ago, Mohammad Naeimi opened the Times Restaurant in the Shahr-e-Now neighbourhood of Kabul. Then one month ago, he equipped his restaurant with a secret weapon: a robot.
'Everyone’s happy with this robot'
Naeimi claimed he imported this robot from Japan:
Our restaurant is not that big but we have 40 workers. Employing a robot was partly to attract the younger generation to our restaurant and to show them that it is possible to have new tech in Afghanistan too.
We wanted to familiarise them with new technolgies. This robot can welcome the customers, take their order, bring the order, give them the bill, receive the payment and also collect the dishes. It can manage eight tables at the same time, and it can speak in Persian, Pashtun and English. Its battery lasts for about 12 hours and then it has head to the charging station.
News about this robot has been everywhere on Afghan media and has even been covered by international media, such as Radio Free Europe. However many Afghans question the motivations behind employing a waiter robot in a country with 25 to 30 percent unemployment. The restaurant owner says he has not fired anyone for a robot’s job and it is just assistance to the restaurant's workers.
The Times Restaurant in Kabul. Source here
'With this robot, we no longer have unhappy conservative customers in our restaurant!'
Mohammad Naeimi continues:
The robot has also solved another problem that we had with conservative families. In many cases, they do not like that a male server approaches them to take orders or anything, so with this robot, we solved that problem.
When families are here with women with a hijab, we send our robot. So now they can eat our food and we have more customers. These customers can enjoy our restaurant without any problem. Everyone’s happy! So far everything is good. And we have customers who only come here to check out our robot.
Buy a robot or pay an Afghan worker for 10 years
In addition, this robot came from China, not Japan. Its official name is “Amy” and it's produced by the Suzhou Pangolin Robot Corp. The price of this Chinese robotic waiter varies online from $6,000 to $7,500 (€5,537 to €6,921). This means that this robot costs between 463,000 and 579,000 Afghani, which is equivalent to a salary for eight to 10 years for an Afghan worker...