The Lowdown: Robotazia

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

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The UK's first 'robot-themed' restaurant, complete with droid waitresses, has opened in Milton Keynes.

State-of-the-art cyborgs and a fancy, futuristic setting. We suppose this is the time for a bit of escapism
Hmm, not exactly. The restaurant’s appearance is more Robot Wars​ meets Red Dwarf ​than, say, Blade Runner​. And the front of house team looks to have more in common with Marvin The Paranoid Android from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ​than The Terminator​ (you decide whether that’s a good thing or not). 

So what’s it all about then?
Robotazia describes itself as ‘the UK’s first Sci-Fi robot themed restaurant’. Customers will be served by a fleet of robot waiters and waitress that have apparently been made from recycled waste, and are designed to take orders, discuss the menu and then bring the food to the tables. The interior design also features an array of ‘bespoke’ sci-fi fitments and robot-themed displays, including a 10ft tall boxing sculpture made entirely from Dyson vacuum cleaners, fittingly named Mike Dyson.

And what’s on the menu?
If you were being generous, you would describe it as an eclectic assortment of dishes. Mains include slow-cooked beef curry; salmon in coconut sauce; and a small range of 12” pizzas. Sides, meanwhile, include plain rice; pineapple salsa; and a rather curiously named ‘hi-tech’ salad. Then there’s the children’s menu, which appears to have been sourced from the discount aisle of a local Asda and includes plates of fish goujons; chicken nuggets; and pork sausages with pasta in a tomato sauce. Frankly, it all sounds so wildly incoherent that you could easily believe the menu was created by a machine. Or possibly the same algorithm that Ofqual used for its A-level results.

Still, to be the first restaurant in the UK run by a robot waiting staff is impressive…
Certainly, although restaurant businesses have been toying with the idea for years. Back in 2016, Pizza Hut in Japan began trialling Pepper, a 3ft humanoid robot that was able to interact with customers and even respond to questions about dietary requirements, giving info on calorie counts and fat content. It also featured a facial recognition system designed to monitor its customers’ emotions. And lest we forget, robots and drones are already shaking up the home-delivery market, with meals delivered by autonomous wheeled and also flying drones in some countries (the former was trialled in London by Just Eat). Kitchen robots programmed to do very simple tasks – such as lifting fries out of the fryer or flipping burgers – are also becoming increasingly commonplace.

Could Robotazia offer a glimpse into the future of eating out then?
We think that may stretching it a little. Robotazia may be able to have a droid deliver a pizza to your table, but at the time of writing the restaurant’s website​ has a notice saying it is currently experiencing problems with its card payment system, which hardly suggests this is the start of a technological revolution. At least we can all look forward to hearing the strained robotic tones of ‘Can I explain our concept?’ for a nice change.

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