Technology is affecting us in many ways, including the restaurant “etiquette”!
Suppose you are being served by a robot, would it be polite to tip or, being a robot, just skip it? I guess there has been very little discussion on this since restaurants using robots as waiters are very few.
There are several restaurants using automated ordering system (I was in a very little place in an off-the-road village in Spain and I was surprised to see that menu, order and check were all through my smartphone -there was a QR code on the table and the hostess seating us pointed to it and said we can do everything through the smartphone, and indeed it worked seamlessly). Some restaurants are automating their kitchen with some robots to flank the cooks and in a few case the robots have completely replaced the cook (watch the clip).
A restaurant in Florida, mostly because of shortage of manpower, has turned to Servi, a robot produced by Softbank for waitering. Interestingly, Softbank is not selling the robot, they are providing it with a monthly fee of 1,000$, actually cheaper than a human waiter.
So far ther is the “novelty” factor, and the restaurant is filling up better than before. One should wait a few months and see once the novelty fades away what the operation will be. For the time being, however, the restaurant owner is reporting an increase in tips, indicating that customers are even more willing to tip a robot than a human waiter. That sounds strange, but we -people- are strange…