National Chung Cheng University opens an unmanned AI restaurant where robots seat guests, take orders, and brew coffee

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Is it possible for robots to recognize regular customers? National Chung Cheng University (CCU) has launched an unmanned artificial intelligence (AI) restaurant in which robots become familiar with the seating and dining preferences of regular customers through facial recognition and cloud data. In addition to these robots’ capability to efficiently guide customers to their preferred seats and provide recommended menus, the restaurant also integrates virtual reality and mobile order and pay options, showcasing the trends that AI restaurants will adopt going forward. CCU’s unmanned AI restaurant was opened in its campus library on October 16, 2019. It is expected that the official opening of the restaurant will provide more convenient dining services for students and teachers.

Located in the Art Space on the third floor of the CCU Library, the unmanned AI restaurant combines artificial intelligence, robots, virtual reality, and cloud computing, and applies advanced technologies to save on manual labor and time. The restaurant was developed by a research team specializing in AI and unmanned technologies led by Professor Rong-Guey Chang from the Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering, and it was established in the library after long-term collaboration, discussion, and experimentation between both parties.

According to CCU, the restaurant has a robot receptionist at its entrance that automatically seats customers according to their preferences; a robotic arm that automatically brews different types of coffee and creates foam art; and a robot that serves food to customers. As the robot receptionist is equipped with a facial recognition function, its system is able to record the seating and dining preferences of customers for future reference. When these customers visit the restaurant again, the robot will automatically provide recommended dining options according to the customer’s previous records. Furthermore, customers can foot their bills through online mobile payment, while the robots are serving them their food and drinks.

CCU indicated that Professor Rong-Guey Chang is the country’s leading expert in many AI technologies, and has applied integrated information technology to mechanical, electrical engineering, communication, and medical applications, so as to provide comprehensive solutions for local industries. The unmanned AI restaurant developed by his team utilizes a multitude of key technologies through such processes and tools as analyzing customers’ preferences through big data, automated push notifications, automated seating monitoring, robot path planning, anti-collision detection, multi-robot task scheduling and communication, KUKA robot compiler, and a remote monitoring system. In the future, these technologies can be applied in factories, hospitals, stores, and hotels.