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Chinese Robot Waiters Fuel Korean Anxiety Over Labor Shortages

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A robot waitress serving patrons.

According to the Korean Association of Robot Industry, around 5,000 robot waiters were operating in Korean restaurants last year, up 67% from the year before. This year, the number will probably double, Financial Times reports.

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South Koreans are anxious over a flood of cheap Chinese robot waiters amid labor shortages, population declines, and growing rivalry with Chinese technology firms.

The Korean Association of Robot Industry estimated roughly 5,000 server robots—over 70% of Chinese manufacture—were operating in South Korean restaurants last year, a number that could double this year.

Executives say government programs designed to fuel robot adoption irrespective of the devices' country of origin were harming South Korea's domestic robotics industry.

Chinese robots can be up to 20% less expensive than similar South Korean units, and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information predicted the national market for service robots could soar from $53 million this year to $1 billion in 2026.

From Financial Times
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