Dec 5, 2018

Meet Ginger, Nepal's robot waiter

Meet Ginger. Photo: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty

One of the latest restaurants to replace waiters with machines has three robots, all named Ginger, who glide from the kitchen to the tables, cracking jokes for diners.

But it's not in China, Japan or the U.S. — the main venues for robot experimentation. It's in Nepal.

The big picture: Nepal is far from being an innovation center. It has a GDP of around $25 billion — 1/500 the size of China's and 1/800 of the United States'. And it graduates just 10,000 technologists a year. But a handful of startups are working to bring cutting-edge tech to the small Himalayan nation.

  • One startup is Paaila Technology. This group of 25 engineers — none over the age of 27 — designed and built three "Gingers" and installed them at Naulo, a restaurant they opened in one of Kathmandu's poshest neighborhoods, reports the Economic Times of India. The restaurant's name roughly translates to "new."
  • Much of Naulo is automated — customers order via a digitalized screen at their table, choosing from full-color photographs of pizza, Nepali dumplings and other dishes.

Fun fact: The Gingers themselves are very much handmade — they are painted, for instance, by a local mechanic.

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