Pudu Robotics range of service robots, including the robot waiter, PuduBot. | Source: Pudu Robotics Facebook

Robot Waiters Herald the Beginning of the Robot Revolution

In countries like China and Japan, robot servers are considered relatively commonplace. But when robot servers begin to pop up in cities across Australia, most recently in Perth, it makes headlines.

Fremantle restaurant Spice Market recently became home to Perth’s first robotic waiter, Jasmine. While Jasmine doesn’t look like sci-fi movies would have you expect from a robot, the serving robot from Pudu Robotics can make up to 400 deliveries a day and even sing you ‘Happy Birthday’.

Although Jasmine has an LED display for a face, the A$22,000 serving robot appears more like a row of trays on wheels and is relatively limited in its capabilities. Staff must load the trays and diners must remove their dishes from Jasmine as it doesn’t have arms.

If anything, robot waiters like Jasmine function more like a marketing tool, with restaurants and other businesses utilising robots as a novel attraction rather than a replacement for real workers.

Robots in the COVID era

While robots present a customer-attracting novelty factor to hospitality businesses, they also present a solution to real problems like staff shortages. As a result of the pandemic, many restaurants across the world are finding that potential workers are being deterred by the risks associated with working in public spaces. This has led some businesses to buy robot servers like Jasmine and Richtech Robotics’ Matradee.

Despite their modest appearances, serving robots like Matradee are created with impressive sensor and navigation technology. Detecting obstacles up to six metres away and reacting within a fraction of a second, Matradee and other robot servers are impressive pieces of kit. But does it mean they are set to take over the hospitality industry?

CEO of Richtech Robotics told WIRED that robots are more like tools; a way to augment the efficiency of a person.

You increase the human’s ability to produce and do things, that’s really what it is. It’s more of a partner, a tool, like a laptop is a tool.

CEO of Richtech Robotics

As well as completing the grunt work of restaurants in the COVID era, robots have also been used to safely and effectively disinfect spaces like hospitals, trains and hotels. Pudu Robotics’ Puductor 2 boasts a 99.9 per cent disinfection rate and reduces the risk of contamination and infection associated with human cleaners.

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