‘Robotic’ China restaurant boss mimics android to serve delighted customers, goes viral globally


Trained dancer even manages to stop blinking during impersonation. Fascinated social media observers vow to visit hotpot restaurant. — SCMP

As debate rages over the ability of artificial intelligence, or AI, to replace human jobs, a hotpot restaurant owner in China has taken things to a new level.

The eatery entrepreneur in Chongqing municipality in the southwest of the country has become an online sensation with her innovative impersonation of a robot waitress.

Her unique performance, captured in a series of viral videos, shows her adopting robot-like mechanical movements to serve customers.

One of the online videos features her robotically serving a dish to a table set with a spicy hotpot soup base, duck intestines, ham and vegetables.

The 26-year-old eatery owner has fooled many people who think she is an actual robot. Photo: Douyin

From robotically waving to greet guests at the entrance, to mechanically serving dishes, pouring tea and making toasts, her performance has confused viewers, many of whom think she is a real robot.

One online observer asked: “Is this really a robot?”

Another marvelled at her ability not to blink.

However, the more astute viewers have identified the “robot” as a real person after noticing subtle details like the blackheads and pores on her nose and the slight movement of her nostrils as she breathed.

According to Jiupai News, the restaurant owner, a 26-year-old, surnamed Qin, has been passionately involved in dance since her childhood, and underwent professional training from the age of 12.

She said that the rhythmic and mechanical movements of robots closely resemble the beats of street dance, making it easy for her.

“Eye expressions are definitely acted, but the moves rely on muscle control,” said Qin.

Her robotic idea emerged from her daily interactions with friends, leading to unexpected online fame.

“When customers or friends come to the restaurant, we dance together. By chance, they thought my impersonation was very realistic and recorded a video of me, which was then uploaded online,” said Qin.

“It’s about having fun using my talents and adding a unique feature to the restaurant,” she added.

The “robot” entrepreneur has seen her business grow and fascination with her skills spread worldwide. Photo: Douyin

The performance not only delighted many on-site customers but also prompted many people on mainland social media to express a desire to experience the service in person.

“I was fooled at first, thinking it was a real robot,” said one person.

While another added: “I laughed so hard at this video! I’ll go to this hotpot restaurant just to see the business owner.”

As the story was reposted on Facebook, it received about 50,000 likes and international attention.

“I love creativity!” one viewer said.

“It’s unbelievable. She didn’t even blink. That is almost impossible to do,” said another. – South China Morning Post

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