Down a side street bracketed by massage parlours and cheap hotels in this city on the banks of the Yangtze river, a humanoid food service robot trundles around the corner of a table in a cafe, red eyes flashing in tune with synthesised classical music.
The Wuhu Hands On Cafés waiter, named Hero, has no customers on a drizzly Friday morning. He is, though, a symbol of Wuhu citys hopes of becoming a major centre for robotics, and the local governments ability to chase that dream through the debt markets, whether it makes commercial sense or not.
Hero was the result of six months research at a nearby robotics park that has cost 2.2 billion yuan ($332 million) to establish. For the parks next stage, including a h…