Innovation That Matters

Robot waiter

Robot server delivers food in restaurants

Work & Lifestyle

A California startup has developed a robot that delivers food and clears tables in restaurants

At Springwise, we have covered a number of ways in which robots are being used for a growing variety of tasks formerly done by humans. These include tasks such as harvesting cucumbers and patrolling buildings. These innovations do not suggest that robots will be taking over the world any time soon. However, they are a sign that automation is redefining the future of work. Silicon Valley-based startup Bear Robotics has introduced robots that can deliver food to tables in restaurants. The robotic system, dubbed Penny, uses AI self-driving technology to navigate its way through the restaurant, avoiding people and obstacles.

Bear Robotics was founded by John Ha, who worked as an engineer at Google for six years before investing in a Korean restaurant. He quickly noticed that food service could be very inefficient and labor intensive. Ha invented Penny in order to increase efficiency in front of house operations. The prototype Penny is currently working seven days a week in Ha’s Milpitas-based restaurant. When food is ready, managers use an app to call the robot, which then runs the dishes to the designated table. By taking over the task of running the food and dishes back and forth from the kitchen, servers are freed up to focus on interacting with the clients and delivering greater customer satisfaction.

Penny doesn’t have arms, so customers or servers must move the food from the robot to the table. Bear Robotics plans on expanding by renting out Pennys to other restaurants for an hourly or monthly fee. In the future, the company may also expand the Penny system to include integration with restaurant point of sale systems, allowing the robot to take orders directly from customers, possibly using a tablet. Will robot servers and runners mean fewer restaurant jobs for humans?

To read a full interview with the founder John Ha please visit The Spoon




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