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Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots

MAKKAH (Arabnews): We’ve all been there … you order a meal in a restaurant, and the waiter arrives with a pasta salad instead of a chicken biryani.

There are no such issues at Restaurant Robot in Jazan. As the name suggests, the waiters are not fallible human beings, but robots powered by sophisticated artificial intelligence.

Six robot assistants are operating in the city center restaurant to deliver trays of Asian dishes to patrons. The system was originally set up as a precaution to reduce human contact during the coronavirus pandemic, but it has proved a hit with visitors.

In a system designed by young Saudi engineer Reham Omar, the restaurant interior has been fitted with strategically placed sensors that allow the robots to move about and take food to customers.

“Thanks to the sensors, the robots can sense anything standing near them, allowing them to stop walking or change their routes accordingly,” she told Arab News

“Each robot has had a map of the restaurant interior and the location of each table programmed into their memory. When the robot gets to the targeted table, customers can pick up their food and order the robot to leave.”

Omar said the idea had been developed by drawing on the experiences of other countries, and with support from the Saudi government for the food industry.

“We are proud of our project, as small as it is,” she said. “Customers are loving the robots and are impressed with the idea.

“Cultures are changing, and people are now eager to discover new technologies that can improve their quality of life.”