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Robots Ready to Work in Restaurants

For many years, machines have been doing work that people once did, including some difficult jobs. Search and rescue operations in dangerous environments are often seen as the first areas that will employ high technology robots. But there is another area that may soon take jobs traditionally held by human beings: the restaurant industry.

Teams from around the world competed in early June at the DARPA Robotic Challenge Finals in California. A team from South Korea and its robot, called DRC-Hubo, won first place in the competition. The second and third place finishers were from the United States.

The robots were required to drive a vehicle, climb up steps and do mechanical work. Such activities are easy for humans to perform, but more difficult for machines.

Not all of the competitors were successful. The failures showed how difficult it is to design effective walking machines.

Recently, crowds gathered for the food machinery and technology show in Tokyo, Japan. They witnessed a robotic chef preparing food. Other machines cooked, baked tasty pastries and even made sushi.

Akihiro Suzuki works at Yaskawa Electric, a company that develops robots. He says robots cannot do everything a human can, but they are able to work without becoming tired.

He says robots cannot taste food, change heating levels or seasonings to get the best flavor. But he says if a food can be easily prepared, a robot can repeat the same movement to reproduce the same meal.

One Japanese woman who saw the robots working wanted to bring them home.

Masayo Mori says she would like to have a husband who could work like a robot.

Suzumo Machinery demonstrated its sushi maker robot. It performs the often difficult work of wrapping the popular Japanese food. Hiroshi Monden is an official with the company.

He says people all over the world now eat sushi, but there are not enough skilled workers to prepare it. He says his machine can help anyone make sushi.

Other robots have been created to help decorate cakes and cut and peel apples.

I’m Bob Doughty.

VOA’s George Putic reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

pastry – n. a small, baked sweet food

sushi – n. a Japanese dish of cold cooked rice shaped in small cakes and topped or wrapped with other ingredients (such as pieces of raw fish)

adjust – v. to change (something) in a minor way

seasoning(s) – n. a substance (such as salt, pepper, a spice or an herb) that is used to add flavor to food

peel – v. to remove the skin from (a fruit or vegetable)

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