Robots won’t replace human hospitality staff – but they can lend a mechanical hand

IT MAY not be everyone’s idea of service with a smile, but robots programmed to serve food and drinks are already at work in the USA ­– and their manufacturer is confident they will soon prove useful in UK service settings.

With well-publicised workforce shortages in both the hospitality and care home industries, Bear Robotics has chosen this year for the UK launch of ‘Servi’, a robot that uses artificial intelligence and autonomous technology to serve drinks and food and clear tables, freeing up human staff to concentrate on interaction with their customers or patients.

Servi can be programmed to learn different table locations and is claimed to be 100% self-driving. Built with an advanced distance sensor and multiple cameras, the robot is promoted as navigating rooms ‘intelligently, safely and with ease’.

Bear Robotics already has a presence in North America, with over 9000 of its robots at work in restaurants, corporate campuses, ghost kitchens, senior living facilities, casinos, and medical device and automotive factories.

The company’s vision is to be globally recognised as the leader in automating the hospitality and goods moving processes, to help free up staff to carry out more productive and higher value-adding roles in their organisations. To that end, Bear is expanding in Europe and has a presence in Iceland, Ireland and now the UK.

Head of sales, Malachy Ryan, said: “Further robots will be rolled out across Europe over the next three to four months. We’re talking to four and five star hotels as well as restaurants and nursing homes across the country.

“Bear Robotics is responding to what businesses need. What we do is solve problems and Robotics help people in their jobs. We don’t replace people, we give them a chance to be redeployed,” he insisted.

“Our robot Servi helps staff to do their jobs more efficiently and helps make conditions more pleasant. Servi is suitable for restaurants and nursing homes in terms of delivering food to tables and to rooms. For example, Servi will reduce mundane tasks for staff like carrying dishes to and from the kitchen to tables that are on the other side of the restaurant or down long corridors in nursing homes.

“We’ve seen over the last few years that there’s a huge staff shortage problem in the hospitality sector. We want to bring the best service possible to businesses in these industries and elevate their customers’ experiences. There is a fear that staff will be replaced by robots – but they are there to lend an extra helping hand.”