The hospitality industry, among others, has been looking into novel ways to keep both its workforce and its clients satisfied and safe.
This is when robotics comes in handy. SoftBank announced on Monday that it will bring a robotic waiter to restaurants in Japan, as the country faces shortages in labor due to COVID-19 measures, as well as an aging workforce.
Designed by Bear Robotics, a U.S.-based company, the robotic waiter, Servi, will grace restaurant floors in Japan from January onwards.
Safety and satisfaction
With one of the main measures against catching the coronavirus being physical distance, it's no surprise that robotics companies are forging forwards with their inventions. Using robots keeps both clients and company workers safe and socially distant.
Bear Robotics' Servi food service robot is designed to deliver food to customers in restaurants thanks to its different tiers of trays, Lidar sensors, and 3D cameras.
Each Servi robot costs 99,800 yen ($950) per month excluding taxes as part of a three-year purchase plan, and the plan is for them to be ready for launch in January in Japan, per Reuters.
Last year, after Bear Robotics showed a prototype of the waiter robot to SoftBank's Chief Executive, the Japanese company decided to invest in it.
So far, Servi has already been tested by Japanese restaurant operators, and its demonstrated its ability to swerve around chairs, obstacles (which would typically be people), and make its way to the correct table to deliver the food. Each person has to grab their own plate from one of Servi's layered trays.
This isn't the first time that SoftBank is looking at robots to help in restaurants. Its own humanoid robot, Pepper, was launched in 2014.
Take a look at how Servi operates yourself: