Please enjoy your meal: Nepali robot waiters are the next big thing

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Asian nation Nepal has been known for its soaring peaks and heritage site for a long time now. But the self-taught young innovators of the Himalayan nation intend to give it a makeover and in pursual of that have come with a robot – which is capable waiting tables at restaurants with the exact dexterity of a seasoned waiter.

“Please enjoy your meal,” says Nepal’s first robot waiter, Ginger, as she delivers a plate of steaming dumplings to a table of hungry customers.

Three ‘Gingers’ work at Naulo restaurant in the dusty capital Kathmandu, where pot-holed roads and crumbling buildings still bear the scars of a powerful earthquake that hit more than three years ago.

Ginger – a world class robot

A sneak peak of Ginger – the world's best waiter robot complete with artificial intelligence. Proudly made in Nepal. Launching Soon. #Robot #Ginger #AI

Posted by Paaila Technology on Monday, May 7, 2018

The selfie-star ‘Ginger’

  • Naulo opened its doors four months ago and their robot waiters have been a big draw, attracting curious customers of all ages.
  • Ginger, who is able to sense movement and obstacles, deftly navigates the crowded restaurant carrying trays laden with food. Customers order via a touchscreen menu fitted into the tables, and Ginger is called to the kitchen when dishes are ready.
  • “It was a completely new experience,” said 73-year-old Shalikram Sharma, who was born before televisions were available in Nepal.
  • Ginger has become quite a selfie-star and is often distracted from her work by children keen to get a photo with the sleek robot.
  • “They look so good. I could not believe they were made in Nepal,” said Neelam Kumar Bimali, a diner enjoying an evening meal with his family.
  • At present, a few human waiters help Ginger but an upgrade is in the works that should make Naulo entirely robot-run.

Local start-up shines

  • Local start-up Paaila Technology built Ginger, a 1.5 metre (five-foot) tall robot, from scratch and programmed her to understand both English and Nepali.
  • The bilingual humanoid robot — named Ginger after a common ingredient in Nepali cuisine — can even crack jokes like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa.
  • “This is our testing ground. We are fine-tuning it with responses from our customers,” Binay Raut, CEO of the company, told AFP.
  • The team of 25 young engineers — Raut is the oldest at 27 — worked for months to build the robot, welding and moulding the prototype by hand in their tiny three-roomed office.
  • What Nepal lacks in tech infrastructure the engineers made up for in ingenuity — Ginger’s sleek-looking plastic body was painted in a neighbourhood car workshop.
  • With its eyes on the global market, Paila Technology is in the process of patenting its design to sell at home and abroad.
  • The World Economic Forum recently predicted that by 2025 more than half of all jobs will be performed by robots — almost twice as many as today. That is a trend Ginger’s creators are banking on.

(With inputs from AFP)