A restaurant in Seoul, South Korea is using a trolley-like robot that uses artificial intelligence (A.I.) to serve its customers. Called “Aglio Kim,” the robot helps reduce human contact inside and ensure that customers practice social distancing inside the Mad for Garlic restaurant.

Aglio Kim was developed by South Korean telecoms company KT Corp. and stands 1.2 meters. By using its visual simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) capabilities, the robot delivers food to up to four tables at once and without a hitch. It is also equipped with food trays that can carry up to 30 kg and an LCD screen and speaker, allowing it to communicate with customers using the English and Korean languages.  

According to KT’s A.I. Platform Business Team Leader Lee Young-Jin, Aglio Kim has become a major attraction in the Seoul restaurant because of its abilities. Restaurant manager Lee Young-Ho also said many of the customers find Aglio Kim interesting. “Customers found the robot serving quite unique and interesting, and also felt safe from the coronavirus,” he said.

Starting Monday, restaurants and cafes in Seoul are allowed to open after 9 p.m., provided that they maintain a two-meter distance between tables and record their customers’ names and contact details for contact tracing. Because of this, several restaurants in the South Korean capital are already considering using robots to avoid help with the government’s effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

South Korean has recorded 106 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing its total number of cases to 22,391. KT also said earlier this week that it would supply more robots for restaurants this year and will launch a new model with A.I. voice recognition technology in early 2021.

Meanwhile, another restaurant in Seoul that sells burgers also has robots as its key staff. Customers of No Brand Burger only need to click the menu they want on a kiosk touchscreen, pay for their orders, and wait for a robot to deliver them their takeout bags. Restaurant manager Bae Eunyoung said the only role of their human staff is to add the toppings to the burgers and wrapping them before passing them over to the serving robots.

“The customer can take the food without any direct contact with the staff,” he said.

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