Sassy disco bots of the 80s

Surely, this is a glimpse into the future. No? Ok, its a glimpse into 1983. A small chinese fast-food restaurant in California put two 4.5 foot tall, 180 pound robots to work delivering food. Tanbo R-1 and Tanbo R-2 were their names and delivering food was their game. At least, when there wasn’t radio interference or their batteries were running low.  They were built to deliver food to the tables and be polite to the customers. They also had some interesting quirky behavior, like responding “that’s not my problem” and dancing off to some disco music if they didn’t understand you.  Do yourself a favor and go read some of the stories. We wish we could have seen them in action, they sound fantastically absurd.

18 thoughts on “Sassy disco bots of the 80s

  1. My friends father had one of these, back in the 80’s. he used it to entertain us at one of his Bday parties, I was 11 at the time. fun stuff and really coo. thanks fr the memories.

  2. I remember seeing these on some show about how robots would eventually replace workers. I imagine these robots are no longer running. Good times, I am still waiting for my hover car promised in the 50, 60, 70, etc.

  3. I’d love to see one of these modernized with fresh sensory input and modern navigational code.
    Assuming the platform of the robots themselves aren’t too terrible, the mentioned shortcomings could be remedied by modern microcontrollers pretty readily

    1. I remember a recent article about robots being put to use in a similar fashion in a Chinese shop… I can’t for the life of me remember where i read it or which store it was.

    2. as long as they don’t remove the code that makes it go “not my problem” and dance when it gets confused. that sounds hilarious.

  4. My Google-fu must be suffering… I cannot find any detailed information about these machines. Anyone have a link to more info?

  5. In elementary school, we had a book about robots like this. All old clunky 80s technology, but very neat stuff nonetheless. I checked it out of the library just about every week.

  6. YES!! I grew up in Pasadena and got to go here a couple of times as a little little kid. I was crushed when they went out of business.

  7. Thinking about it, if they were upgraded with today’s technology, they might’ve done better. I’m impressed that they were able to do what they did with what they had then though. Today’s technology would provide them with much better voice recognition, better disco dancing, and less freakouts if a person moved in front of it.

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