Montreal dumpling shop has a new robot busboy

Click to play video: 'Montreal restaurant has an AI on staff' Montreal restaurant has an AI on staff
WATCH ABOVE: Harbin Dumpling's in Montreal employs a unique bus boy: a robot named Johnny Boy. As Global's Brittany Henriques reports, the AI is the eatery's newest and most popular worker – Mar 1, 2020

A new busboy is in town from China and he goes by the name of Johnny Boy. The robot is Montreal restaurant Harbin Dumpling’s newest and most popular server.

The price of a robot-like Johnny Boy is between $10,000 and $20,000 CAD. Despite the high price, the restaurant said they’ll be saving a lot of money in the long run by cutting costs on the number of workers working the same shifts.

“You’re hiring people you have to pay insurance and salary per hour,” said Joyce Zhang.

Johnny Boy brings food from the kitchen to the table thanks to a path carved by sensors placed on the ceiling.

The owners programmed him with help from the makers.

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“This robot specifically is hardcoded, so everything has been coded in advance. Every behaviour was thought out by human beings,” said Montreal AI owner Vincent Boucher.

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Artificial intelligence experts said this technology has been around for years but businesses are now seeing it as a means to stand out from rest.

“Well I think it’s mostly a marketing thing. It’s a cute robot and makes the service very enjoyable,” said Boucher.

“It’s a new experience. A highly technological experience,” said Zhang.

The developments in AI have prompted worries that jobs might be taken over by machines, but experts insist that could take several years.

“A job is a lot of tasks [put] together — so we are not there yet,” said Boucher “Maybe 10 to 15 years from now we will start to have some jobs that a robot can do, but right now it’s just some specific tasks.”
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Zhang said table service can be physically demanding , but Johnny Boy takes some of that weight off her shoulders.

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“Too many things for me to manage. But now that I have Johnny Boy he helps me a lot,” said Zhang.

Despite his great work, he can’t do it all.

“People have the emotion but robots don’t have it. Robots can only do the basic things,” said Zhang.

“I think it will replace tasks. It’s going to help humans to get better at their jobs and be able to be more creative,” said Boucher.

The technology allows some robots to understand their environment, pick up objects and even fly helicopters or drones at a superhuman level.

But Johnny Boy is a simple guy. He just delivers dumplings to the beat of classical music and puts smiles on people’s faces.

The restaurant said its clients love the new robot.

“People are always like ‘oh my god so amazing,'” said Zhang.

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