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China tech

Service robots lend a hand at China's banks and railway stations

Mechanical assistants could cut costs, but technology has kinks to work out

Xiao Si, a humanoid robot, helps customers seeking legal assistance at the Dalian Public Legal Service Center.

DALIAN, China -- Public facilities and banks in China are increasingly relying on robots to serve customers. While these mechanical helpers are expected to ease rising labor costs and improve service, they must become smarter if they are to really catch on.

In December, a humanoid robot, Xiao Si, was installed at the Dalian Public Legal Service Center in the northeastern Chinese city. Xiao Si's job is to help people find lawyers or other legal services. "Hello! You can ask me questions if you need any help," the robot tells clients cheerfully.

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