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US Restaurants and Hotels Turn to Robotics To Alleviate Staff Shortages

The labour shortage of restaurants and hotels in the US is becoming more serious as many establishments reopened this summer. Some business owners have turned to robots, which can make French fries, mix drinks, serve the food and even clean toilets. Bear Robotics, an ex-Googler start-up based in California and backed by Softbank, is a robotics and artificial intelligence company with expertise in the hospitality industry. Its flag product Servi has been widely tested and adopted in the industry across the US, from Florida’s Sergio’s to Country Biscuit in North California to Sangam Chettinad Indian Cuisine Restaurant in Austin. Servi uses cameras and laser sensors to carry plates of food from the kitchen to tables in the dining room, where the waiter then transfers the plates to the customer’s table. The robot costs $999 a month, including installation and support. The demand for Servi isn’t an isolated case - many hospitality robotics companies, like Miso Robotics, Peanut Robotics, Knightscope, SoftBank Robotics and Makr Shakr, say they have seen huge spikes in inquiries for their robots since the pandemic hit. Miso Robotics product Flippy is getting 150 enquiries per week according to the company. Flippy uses AI, sensors, computer vision and robotic arms to fry fast food, like French fries and chicken wings. At the cost of $3,000 per month including maintenance, Flippy can identify the food, sense the oil temperature, and monitor the cooking time.