Can SoftBank convince more restaurants to use bots?

Can SoftBank convince more restaurants to use bots?

Seeing SoftBank filled with more bots.

The Japanese giant group has made a series of investments in robotics companies from cleaning to me Warehouses In the past few years. Now you want to bring robots to restaurants facing shortage of human labor.

SoftBank Robotics America, a subsidiary of SoftBank Corporation, Share With Gausium, a Chinese robotics startup, to expand its self-cleaning and service robots to the United States. For the purpose of automating certain tasks, the Scrubber 50 Pro can clean, sweep, dust, mop and sanitize. Equipped with three serving trays that hold up to 66 pounds in total, the XI robot can serve multiple tables simultaneously. Currently, a fleet of XI robots is being used in a 12,250-square-foot full-service food court equipped with nine restaurants in Orlando, Florida, according to the company.

Partnership comes as restaurants were Increase investment in technology Due to staff shortages during the pandemic, whether it is in The back of the house to cook potatoes Or the front of the house Food delivery to customers’ tables.

Robots as a solution to the problem of labor shortage

In 2016, SoftBank Robotics America was launched to find a way to combine customer service and robotics. The company manufactured Pepper, a human-like robot, which served as a Receptionist in stores and offices. But Pepper’s popularity faded, and so was Pepper’s production Stop in 2020. (SoftBank Robotics said it sold that side of the business.) Then, SoftBank Robotics switched to commercial cleaning, which was facing a labor shortage, and partnered with Brain, a company that makes software for autonomous mobile robots. in 2017 To expand the range of cleaning robots.

There are parts of The jobs people don’t want to do are what robots are made for, said Brady Watkins, president of SoftBank Robotics America. Unlike the need to interact directly with customers As was the case with BieberSome tasks in restaurants are consistent and can be automated remotely, such as delivering dishes from point A to point B.

Restaurants not sure about robots

But some restaurants consider robots to be a solution in their search for a problem. “The problem is very clear, there is a shortage of labor going on, but we are stuck in identifying the right solution,” Watkins said. Part of the problem is that restaurants aren’t fully aware of what robots can do. Watkins, for example, said most companies don’t realize that robots can do work right away on day one, compared to human employees.

An XI or Scrubber Pro 50 is also an expensive investment, Watkins said, costing the same as a typical annual salary for one or two restaurant employees. But they can help free up workers, allowing them to spend more time interacting with customers, which can increase the restaurant’s overall check volume by 5 to 10%, he said.

How do people feel about seeing robots?

While bots can seem annoying or unsettling, SoftBank Robotics may have landed on a natural fit for bots. With the XI or the Scrubber 50 Pro, Watkins said, “What really happens is people when you see a bot, you actually perceive and appreciate the task it is doing in a place that you may not have done before.” He explained that customers see this as a business investing in a high-tech solution to make a restaurant cleaner, for example. In many cases, they are not very different from the robots that automatically vacuum the homes of many Americans.

The pandemic has sparked investor interest in robotics companies, as the service industry faces a shortage of workers. U.S. robotics companies generated $30 billion in funding in 2021, up from $21 billion last year, according to PitchBook data.

The latest partnership comes as SoftBank faces financial problems offshore companies Like Uber and OpenDoor, an online real estate company, to raise funds amid huge investment losses.

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