They move autonomously around the premises, can carry many dishes at the same time and create, in themselves, an additional reason for attractiveness for the restaurants in which they work.
We're talking about Robot Waiters, the last frontier of collaborative robotics dedicated to catering, which are becoming popular in Asia, where they were born, as well as in United States, where many restaurants are adapting to this very interesting trend.
In the coming years, therefore, also in Italy we could increasingly see ourselves served our plate of steaming carbonara, or our hamburger, by one of these friendly waiters.
After all, theautomation is now unstoppable in every sector and so even the restaurant industry is adapting, grabbing all sorts of advantage which may come from the decision to focus on robot waiters.
These robots, in fact, are not only useful for making up for the shortage of staff, nor do they replace the human value of the welcome of a maitre d' or a restaurant manager.
Rather not support the work, reducing the use of manpower for table service and producing, for the restaurant, a tool for differentiate yourself from the competition, attracting more customers.
In the following lines we will see better how.
How are robot waiters made and how do they work?
Small, agile and aesthetically very appealing, waiter robots are capable of juggle between tables and place settings of every type of venue.
Thanks to a series of sensors, cameras, and a software Able to perfectly coordinate their movement, robot waiters move independently inside the venue avoiding obstacles, interacting with the flow of customers, staff or other robotic collaborators, and ultimately adapting to the surrounding environment.
For transport the dishes, whether it be dishes or drinks, are usually equipped with one or more trays arranged on different levels, to optimize the spaces and dimensions of the cobots.
Their programming then allows you to always independently carry out the typical steps that a waiter would do during service.
In fact, as soon as it receives the order, the waiter robot moves in the direction of the staff workstation to ensure that food and drinks can be loaded onto its trays.
But a robot waiter can also proceed "personally" to the service receiving orders. In fact, thanks to touch screen panels mounted on board and voice recognition systems, the robot can give information on the menu to the customer and take the order.
The next step is to reach the table.
A waiter robot is programmed to perfectly know the arrangement and spatial placement of tables in a restaurant.
Therefore, it reaches in complete autonomy the customers to be served who, often notified by a acoustic or light signal, they can take their order and notify the robot waiter when they have finished the operation, so that it can move on to the table or pick up the next order.
In some cases, when restaurateurs request it, robot waiters can also be programmed to proceed clear the tables, clearly with the support of the diners themselves.
Furthermore, if you want to create a fully automated restaurant, robot waiters can be assigned to theclients receptions.
What are the operational and economic advantages of robot waiters for restaurants?
Let's start from economic factor, which we are certain is of interest to many in evaluating whether or not it is worth purchasing robot waiters for their establishment.
The current average price of these robots, first of all, is around 15 thousand euros.
This is a cost which, however, pays for itself over time: a robot waiter can work without any particular problems for several years; its source of diet it is electricity, with reduced consumption; requires maintenance costs not high.
A good entrepreneur knows how much it can cost and how complicated it is to hire additional staff every year, especially in high season. Also in this sense, robot waiters can represent a valid solution.
On the other hand, and this should not be underestimated, robot waiters can bring gods advantages also for human staff, relieving them of some tasks to be able to concentrate on other aspects of the service and on attention to detail.
Balancing the approach to the use of these technologies, integrating human staff and robots, could ensure that the use of the skills of both can be optimized, promoting a better experience for customers.
Last but not least, robot waiters represent a great reason for every establishment curiosity on the part of customers.
This means that their mere presence can count as marketing tool very effective. Just think of how many new customers could be enticed to enter a restaurant for the first time just to live the experience of robotic service.
The current market and future prospects
The trigger for the boom of this technology in catering, like many innovations in recent years, was represented by the economic consequences of Covid.
In fact, what accelerated the adoption of waiter robots was first and foremost the temporary nature shortage of staff recorded globally, as well as the need to develop increasingly automatic businesses that reduce human contact to a minimum.
According to some data, for example, in suns USA, the restaurant sector has reduced the use of human staff by approximately 400,000 units compared to the pre-Covid period.
Beyond this trigger, however, the use of robot waiters lies continuing to spread at a very rapid pace.
The only Chinese company Pudu Robotics, among the manufacturers of these robots, for example, since its foundation in 2016 has already distributed well 56 thousand robot waiters.
The greatest diffusion of robot waiters currently occurs obviously in Asia, where most of them are produced. Even in the States, however, many large companies are adapting to the request and starting to design them.
In ItalyHowever, the market is in its embryonic state and there are still few restaurants that choose to focus on this technology.
For Italian restaurateurs, this data must be taken into particular consideration.
The few places that have already chosen to "hire" robot waiters, given the current state of the art, have no choice but to do so make news and arouse a lot of curiosity. Being the first in your city can therefore be seen as an investment capable of producing a huge advantage over the competition.