SERVICE with a smile has turned sci-fi at this restaurant as diners are waited on and cooked for by robots.

At Robot Restaurant 20 robots deliver food to the table, cook dumplings and noodles, usher diners and entertain them in Harbin, Heilongjiang province in China. When a diner walks in, an usher robot extends their mechanic arm to the side and says ‘Earth person hello. Welcome to the Robot Restaurant.’

After diners have ordered, robots in the kitchen set to work cooking their meals. Once the dish is prepared, a robot waiter, which runs along tracks on the floor, carries it from kitchen to table.

Prepared dishes are placed on a suspended conveyor belt and when the plate reaches the right table the mechanical arms lift it off and set it down. As they eat, a singing robot entertains diners.

The restaurant has gained international fame and continues to grow in popularity since it opened in June last year.

Chief Engineer Liu Hasheng, said they invested 5 million Yuan (about £500,000) in creating the restaurant, with each robot costing 200,000 to 300,000 Yuan (around £20,000 to £30,000).

The robots can work continuously for five hours after a two-hour charge.

Mr Hasheng said: ‘Staff in the computer room can manage the whole robot team. ‘After the busy times during the day, the robot will go for a “meal”, which is electricity.’

The robots range in height from 4.3 to 5.25ft and can display more than 10 facial expressions and say basic welcoming lines to diners, local media reported. The restaurant offers a menu with more than 30 dishes and for the average cost for a diner is £4 to £5.

In 2010, another robot restaurant opened in Jinan in northern Shandong province, where robots resembling Star Wars droids circle the room carrying trays of food in a conveyor belt-like system.

More than a dozen robots operate in the restaurant as entertainers, servers, greeters and receptionists.

San Franciso-based company Momentum Machines announced plans for a new fast food restaurant chain where all the cooking is done entirely by robots last year. Their burger-making machine is capable of making 350 hamburgers per hour.              –MOL