MULTAN: A pizzeria in Multan has suddenly become the focus of consumers’ attention, and not particularly because of aromas and tastes. The reason: a rob­otic waitress is wandering about the restaurant and serving food to the diners.

More importantly, the robot has been developed by pizzeria owner’s son, an electrical engineering graduate from NUST Islamabad.

“Soon after the news of the robotic waitress spread, there is a long queue of customers outside the shop who want to dine here,” said Syed Aziz Ahmed Jafari, the owner of Pizza.com.

He said his son, Syed Osama Aziz, gave the unique idea of making a robotic waitress to give a boost to the business.

“My son was interested in going to the United States for further studies, but I asked him to do something for our country, particularly this city (Multan),” he said. “I am also feeling proud as a Multani; we have left Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad behind,” he smiled. He said that people were coming to his pizzeria not only from Multan but even from the adjoining districts.

While Jafari was interested in introducing four more robotic waitresses, he said he would not reduce the number of human waiters as he did not want to make anybody jobless. He also urged the government to come forward and help his son improve this technology.

MULTAN: A robot waiter serves a pizza to customers at Pizza.com restaurant.—INP
MULTAN: A robot waiter serves a pizza to customers at Pizza.com restaurant.—INP

The robot is able to navigate to the customer’s table, greet the customer, serve the meal and come back to the counter, said Mr Aziz, the developer.

Weighing 25 kilograms and capable of carrying up to 5kg of food, the robot also detects and requests the obstacle in its way to give way. “Much is needed to improve it. I took the basic idea from China where robots are working and serving in restaurants already,” he said.

But why did he prefer a waitress to a waiter? “The female body shape is helping the machine to maintain the weight it is carrying. We have put a scarf in her neck to make clear that it is a female robot,” he said. He said that all the components, both electrical and mechanical, used in the machine were made in Pakistan.

He has also received calls from businessmen who expressed their interest in such machines, he said.

Mr Aziz said that at present the waitress was unable to take orders, but he would enhance her functionality.

“People are asking it to take orders. They don’t give orders until the machine comes to their table,” he said. “Moreover, the robot doesn’t have a name as yet. But I am thinking to give her a name,” he chuckled.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2017

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