Unmanned noodle shops in central Shanghai were shut down soon after going into operation due to the most old-fashioned reason: bureaucracy. They had an operating license, but the wrong sort.

The Lu Dou Jiqiren Yidong Mianguan branded shops (卤豆移动面馆 or “Stewed Bean Robot Mobile Noodle Shop”), effectively noodle vending machines installed on streets and in shopping centers in Shanghai’s Xuhui district were shut down, according to ChinaNews.com (in Chinese), and signs put up by the owners Shanghai Lu Dou Food and Beverage Management Co (note: company name 噜逗, brand name 卤豆) to say:

Queues had been forming at lunchtimes for the RMB 10 bowls of noodles. The soup is kept at -18ºC and is rapidly thawed and heated along with the beef, dispensing a bowl of hot soup noodles in under a minute. Already popular among time-pressed office workers, the robots were shut down after just days of cooking, according to Xinhua (in Chinese), which said the machines were shut down because they were “suspected of exceeding their operating parameters.”

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...