Robots are seeing increasing interest from restaurants for their potential to save labor and boost efficiency. And amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the machines offer the added benefit of reducing human interaction in restaurants.
While questions remain about cost, safety and speed, robotics companies are continuing to roll out new models that do everything from topping pizzas to serving them. Here are three new bots that hit the market recently.
Bear Robotics and SoftBank’s robot division this week launched Servi, essentially a tray on wheels that can serve food and drinks and bus tables. Video shared by Bear shows Servi carrying pizzas, salads and drinks to customers.
The companies touted Servi’s agility and object detection, saying that the robot is “in a class of its own” when it comes to safety. They reported strong interest in the U.S., Korea and Japan.
Servi can be programmed via tablet or an attached touchscreen and comes in two sizes.
SoftBank Robotics makes some of the most well-known robots, including the human-like Pepper. Servi appears to be the company’s first bot designed specifically for foodservice.
Beastro can serve up to 45 dishes per hour across multiple cuisines, including Italian, Asian, salad, soups and more. It’s powered by a cloud-based software that allows chefs to program and customize dishes, and integrates with more than 80 third-party delivery services. In theory, this would allow the robot to produce food for multiple brands in a ghost kitchen-type environment.
Many in the industry view ghost kitchens as a space ripe for automation, given that robots could be used to produce food for multiple brands, boosting efficiency and cutting down on the need for multiple pieces of the same equipment.
Beastro starts at $5,990 per month, Kitchen Robotics said.
The pizza-making robot from xRobotics is designed to replace the prep line with the ability to top up to 150 pies in an hour and do the work of five full-time employees, according to the company.
Workers still have to roll out the dough, but xPizza One handles toppings, with capacity for up to 17 ingredients. The company offers additional equipment that can transfer the pies from the prep line into the oven.
The robot is being tested this month at a single Dodo Pizza unit in Oxford, Miss., and the company has an agreement to bring the robots to “one of the top five pizza chains” in the U.S. next year at more than 100 locations.
An upgraded model called the xPizza Max, which will be able to process 300 pizzas in an hour, will launch in 2021, the company said.