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?