Many of us fear the day when our robot overlords take over the earth and force our puny meatship bodies into servitude.
But as technology takes over every facet of our lives, could it be that humans and robots are working side by side in harmony?
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Maki & Ramen on South Bridge Street think they have the answer with their fantastic new assistant robot – Miyako the Bellabot.
Miyako is considered the first of its kind in Scotland and will seek to add to the overall dining experience for Maki & Ramens clientele.
Miyako will be used in a way that removes mundane tasks like serving so that traditional Irishai (hosts/servers) can spend more time greeting customers and making their visit as pleasant as possible.
The server robot has a basic set of functions that range from being able to serve multiple tables in a single trip thanks to its tray stacking system to singing happy birthday to customers and even telling them when they are on the way.
The device’s route is pre-programmed so it always knows where it’s going.
Chefs and other staff will be able to rely on the robot during busy times to dispense food directly from the kitchen.
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While deploying Miyako, Maki and Ramen Business Development Associate Andrew McCall said: “The idea is to allow staff to put food on the plate where it will then be transported to customers at their specified table. . A server will often accompany Miyako to ensure that our diners benefit from the warm experience often offered by our Irishai. Of course, during busy times, Miyako can have the chef load the plates and customers can take their trays directly when it lights up blue.
“We are able to place multiple trays on different supports and program the robot to follow a pre-determined path that has been set by our human servers. This way we can make sure the right plates go to the right place in the right order. It can also be used to carry plates.
“Miyako also has a lot of character. They will interact with a classic anime voice and react to customers stroking their ears or patting their head. Along with that, Miyako will tell people to get moving if they’re about to complete tasks – not to mention the chance to sing happy birthday on that special day.
“Miyako can also be programmed to speak in different languages, so it’s perfect for a diverse customer base. We hope to use the bot in the future so we can encourage those who use our services to enter sweepstakes where they might end up win random prizes like a free Katsu curry.
“We are also looking to introduce sticker instructions on the tables so that visitors can use the robot easily.
“Miyako will come out and serve customers but we’re really trying to keep it as a novelty so we won’t overdo it. That being said, we wanted to create a fun and immersive experience for our diners and staff.
Miyako had a cyber punk style makeover that was designed by Andrew and he hopes to roll out similar designs to other franchises within Maki & Ramen.
The motivation to introduce the robot waiter comes from similar models that are used in Hong Kong, Japan and China where robots are integrated into daily life – allegedly without displacing more traditional staff members.
And as a human being, that was my first concern. Is it the slow march towards replacing working-class jobs in the hospitality industry with more affordable robots?
It’s something restaurant manager Marietta ably addressed, stating that a robot is no substitute for what human staff members can do, she said: “Staff were reassured that the introduction of Miyako will not result in the replacement of staff. Rather, it will serve to enrich the experience of staff members by making their lives easier.
A case study example is if we are really overwhelmed with orders and tables are waiting for food, we can still deliver a rich customer experience without the customer missing their food or it arriving cold, because Miyako can carry her. On top of that, it creates fun talking points for the server as they will come to the table to accompany the robot.
“It’s cute and fun and by no means a replacement for a good server. Servers can handle things like conflict resolution among many other issues the robot would struggle with.
“It’s very Japanese to have robots everywhere. Japan is a good example of how not to replace staff, but rather to use the relationship between robots and humans to make life easier and for the customer to have the most personal and fun experience. without the novelty ever fading.
You can try the Maki & Ramen robot waiter on South Bridge Street at the franchise store, but it should be noted that this is the only restaurant under the Maki & Ramen banner in Scotland that has a Miyako.
Menu details can be found online here – with a special recommendation to try Seaweed and Black Tonkotsu from yours truly!