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Robots serve up food and fun in Budapest cafe

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A robot waiter serves customers at a cafe in Budapest, Hungary, January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – The robots at the Enjoy Budapest Cafe can do it all – they can serve up food and drink, tell jokes, dance with the kids or just hang out for a chat with customers.

The cafe, opened by IT company E-Szoftverfejlesztő in the Hungarian capital, is staffed by a whole team of robots that aim to help familiarize the public with the technological revolution in automation and artificial intelligence.

The robot waiters follow fixed paths to deliver food and drink orders to customers, who are asked to keep out of the robots’ way.

Others serve up entertainment, such as Pepper, a “receptionist” robot that can hold a conversation and also dance with customers.

Developed by Japanese company Softbank, Pepper needed to be modified to be able to hear customers in the noisy environment of a cafe, owner Tibor Csizmadia says.

From online reviews customers appear to be charmed by Pepper’s antics and were forgiving of the laborious service style of her ‘waiter’ colleagues.

Despite fears that increasing automation and artificial intelligence will take away employment from humans, Enjoy Budapest Cafe’s robots aren’t putting anyone out of a job yet.

“We actually employ twice as many people as before, because to operate 16 to 20 robots from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. we need to have IT specialists in the background,” Csizmadia says.

Reporting by Krisztina Fenyo; Writing by Lewis Macdonald; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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We’ve got this mountain of trash – why don’t we ski down it?

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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – What to do with the mountain of garbage a major metropolitan area produces is an age-old question. Copenhagen has come up with a brand-new answer: ski down the mountain.

Well, not exactly. The waste is actually inside Copenhill, a waste-treatment plant 10 minutes from downtown Copenhagen. Its main facility is a futuristic building with a sloping roof 85 meters high that’s covered in a material called neveplast. It looks just like a ski slope, except it’s green.

“I think everybody is surprised to start with when they look at it and it’s not snow,” said Christian Ingels, the director at Copenhill. “It’s green dry-slope material. After one or two runs, your mind is automatically adjusting so you feel exactly like skiing.”

Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the plant is an important step in Copenhagen’s ambition to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital. It’s an attempt to build a waste-treatment plant that local residents are happy to see come to their neighborhood. It seems to be working.

“It’s a fantastic experience in the middle of a city to be able to do what you do like the most,” said visiting skier Pelle Hansen. “Instead of having to go six, seven, eight or ten hours to a ski destination, you can be here in ten minutes.”

The plant will also burn waste from around 600,000 residents and 68,000 businesses to produce electricity and district heating, will be sent back to the resident. It will also recycle some of the waste.

The plant began operating in 2017, and the recreational part will open permanently this spring. The slope will open year-round.

“It’s fantastic that one can ski without snow,” said ski slope visitor Tommy Christensen. “It’s a slightly different experience than to skiing in real snow, but it’s my second run and I’ll try it again. It looks promising.”

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, editing by Larry King

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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'Tinder for cows' matches livestock in the mood for love

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A Tinder-inspired app is helping farmers match up potential partners for their cattle.

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Toronto police probe hurling of chair from high-rise balcony

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TORONTO (Reuters) – Toronto police said on Monday they are investigating an incident of a woman hurling a chair from the balcony of a high-rise condominium that was captured on a video that went viral.

The video, captioned “Good morning,” shows a woman with long, blond hair and dressed in black picking up a chair on the balcony and then looking over the balcony while holding the chair. She then stands up straight and looks into the camera as she appears to speak briefly before turning and throwing the chair off the balcony.

The video shows the chair falling toward a busy highway seen below, though police said the chair landed on the condo building’s entrance. No one was injured or killed in the incident, which occurred on Saturday, Toronto Police Service media relations officer David Hopkinson said.

It caught the attention of users of Reddit who expressed safety concerns and sparked the police investigation.

Hopkinson said he first noticed the video on Sunday and was “outraged” by the incident. He said the woman also threw multiple other objects from the balcony, though only the chair was shown on the video.

Hopkinson said the woman in the video could be charged with common nuisance and mischief, endangering life, which is an extreme level of “mischief.” He said the police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the woman.

Incidents involving objects from high-rise building have come to police attention before, Hopkinson said. “There’s quite a number of things investigated thrown from bridges, condos, towers, other high places,” he said. “People do foolish things.”

Reporting by Tyler Choi; Editing by Leslie Adler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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