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Alibaba

That Starbucks queue just got quicker with this robot order taker

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 7:30am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 12:35pm

If you’re tired of waiting in line at a cafe every morning while baristas struggle to take down everyone’s extremely customised coffee order (example: double caramel macchiato with half soy milk, half skimmed milk, less ice, and extra caramel sauce), you might be pleased to know that a smart ordering machine could cut your wait time to mere seconds.

Alibaba Group’s global research institute DAMO Academy on Wednesday unveiled a “smart-ordering” system that allows customers to place complex orders via voice, and even updates the order in real-time should there be any changes or updates.

In a demonstration, the system took a complex order of 34 coffees in 49 seconds – three times as fast as a human barista, who did the same in two minutes and 37 seconds.

Technology giants around the world are developing duplex AI assistants that can fully understand and hold a conversation with a human. Earlier this month, Google unveiled its Google Duplex assistant, which can make phone calls to businesses on a user’s behalf to make or change appointments, while Microsoft’s Mandarin speaking, duplex capable social chatbot XiaoIce was demonstrated in Beijing this week.

Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.