by Stefania Fumo
ROME, May 5 (Xinhua) -- A restaurant in seaside city of Rapallo in the northwestern Liguria region has become the first in Italy to "hire" two Chinese-made robot waitresses, local media reported Sunday.
The two life-sized, woman-shaped robots will take orders and serve clients of the Gran Caffe Rapallo, a seafront restaurant which used to be frequented by the likes of iconic American novelist Ernest Hemingway and Nobel Prize-winning Italian writer Eugenio Montale.
"The two robots arrived from China the day before yesterday," La Stampa newspaper wrote on Sunday. "Gran Caffe Rapallo owner Gabriele Hu, 30, assembled them and started testing them yesterday."
They speak in female voices, are equipped with sensors preventing them from bumping into people or objects, and can sing clients the birthday song upon request.
"Obviously the robot doesn't substitute human work, but it can simplify things and help its work colleagues," Hu told Tgcom 24 private broadcaster, adding that the robots are now being tested and will become operational on May 8, which he said is an auspicious day in China.
"In my country, robots are already a reality in kitchens and restaurants," said Hu.
He added that while the two robots, whose factory name is Xiao Ai, don't have their own names yet. He expects clients will come up with them soon.