In a local ‘kopitiam’, celebrity robots serve customers (VIDEO)

IPOH, Jan 5 — Being served by robots at your favourite kopitiam already sounds wildly improbable but what if these robots look like movie stars? 

Well, the next time you walk into Nam Heong Kopitiam at Ipoh Soho here, be prepared for a vision. Michelle Reis, Fan Bing Bing, Angelababy and Dilraba Dilmurat will be waiting to take your orders.

A total of 10 robots were brought in from China to work at Nam Heong Kopitiam outlets here and in Kuala Lumpur.

Named Goddess Gang, Nam Heong Kopitiam Sdn Bhd assistant general manager Jacklyn Lim said eight of the robots would be stationed here while two others would be based at its Damen Mall outlet in Kuala Lumpur.

“Our intention of using the robots is to improve our service,” she said. “We hope to cut down our customers’ waiting time by half from the present 20 minutes during peak hours.”

Named Goddess Gang, Nam Heong Kopitiam assistant general manager Jacklyn Lim said eight of the robots will be stationed in Ipoh while two others would be based at its Damen Mall outlet in Kuala Lumpur. — Picture by Marcus Pheong
Named Goddess Gang, Nam Heong Kopitiam assistant general manager Jacklyn Lim said eight of the robots will be stationed in Ipoh while two others would be based at its Damen Mall outlet in Kuala Lumpur. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

Lim said before starting the robot service, the company had asked for feedback from customers.

“They were receptive to it as long as we do not raise our prices,” she added.

She said the robots have been programmed to speak English and Cantonese although they are actually capable of conversing in 36 languages.

“After customers get their food, they will need to touch the robot’s hand where a sensor is located to return the robot to its station near the kitchen to pick up other orders,” she added.

The robot, added Lim, can travel at a speed of up to 60 kilometres per hour.

When the robot arrives at a table, customers will have to pick up their orders before touching the robot’s hand to return it to the kitchen to pick up other orders. — Picture by Marcus Pheong
When the robot arrives at a table, customers will have to pick up their orders before touching the robot’s hand to return it to the kitchen to pick up other orders. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

“But we limit it to 30 kilometres per hour as we do not want the food and drinks to spill,” she said while adding that none of the 25 workers would be laid off despite the introduction of robots at the outlet.

Customer Charmaine Sai, 35, said she read about the robots two days ago in Facebook. “My friends and I decided to come today to check it out,” she said.

The human resource manager said locals might need time to get used to the idea of being served by robots.

“But it is a good idea as we can cut down on cost as less manpower is needed in an outlet,” she said.

Nam Heong Kopitiam has imported 10 robots to work at its outlets in Malaysia. — Picture by Marcus Pheong
Nam Heong Kopitiam has imported 10 robots to work at its outlets in Malaysia. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

Business administration undergraduate Liew Voon Chung, 21, described the use of robots as servers as innovative.

“I can accept the idea of getting served by a robot,” he said.

His girlfriend Chang Sook Hua, 21, however said she preferred to be served by humans.

“It is weird being served by robots,” said the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman banking and finance undergraduate. 

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