Owners of companies such as Carlos Casidua were delighted when Florida, USA, showed the green light to reopen restaurants earlier this year. They hoped it would revive their businesses, many of which were in poor condition after the lockout. However, they quickly discovered that getting employees back to work was not easy.
“This is a crisis,” said Cassidua, owner and CEO of Sergio’s Florida restaurant chain. “We could not find anyone.” Even a major job fair in May, which attracts dozens of restaurant and hotel owners offering more than 1,000 jobs, failed.
“We had 40 bosses and only four people in attendance!” he said. “It was weird – we all thought there was something on TV pranks.”
So, Gazitua turned to robotics, bringing the robot service to one of its restaurants in July. Servi uses laser cameras and sensors to carry food trays from the kitchen to the dining room tables, where the waiter transfers the food to the customer’s desk. It costs $ 1,000 a month, including installation and technical support for the robot.
Servi kept waiters and servers from running back and forth in the kitchen, giving more working staff more time to talk to customers and wait at more tables, which led to great tips.
“For the first two hours, the team flew!” That said, the service now operates at the other five full-service restaurants.
Casidua is also among the number of restaurant and hotel owners turning to robotics during labor shortages in the United States. In fact, many robotics companies, such as Miso Robotics, Bear Robotics, Peanut Robotics, Knightscope, SoftBank Robotics and Makr Shakr, claim that there is a high demand by people who want to know more about their robots from the beginning of the epidemic.
Mizo receives about 150 inquiries a week about its Philippine robot, said Mike Bell, the company’s chief executive. Fry fast foods such as French fries and chicken wings using Filipino artificial intelligence, sensors, computer vision and robotic hands. Costing about $ 3,000 a month, including maintenance, the robot detects food, senses oil temperature, and monitors cooking time.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year from foodborne illness. The use of robots like flippy improves accuracy in the kitchen and reduces human error that can lead to food pollution problems, Bell said.
Fast food chain White Case began testing Philippi in late 2020 at its restaurant in Merrillville, Indiana.
“This is the hardest job market we’ve had since World War II,” said Jamie Richardson, vice president of marketing for White Castle, founded in 1921. The test was very good and plans to add Flippy in 10 places. Michael J. Hicks is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Paul State University in Munchee, Indiana.
“The leisure and hospitality sector has recorded a 50% drop in employment by 2020, representing 8.3 million workers,” he said. “This is the worst shock to a registered industry after the Great Recession.”
Demand for this specialty has grown significantly as a result of recent corporate scandals, said co-founder and CEO Juan Higuer. In addition to Sergio’s restaurants, he has been taking orders from casinos, restaurant chains, sports and event halls, and even from senior citizens’ homes, eager to help overstaffed employees.
Burnout syndrome is becoming a major problem for those who work in restaurants.
Peanut Robotics, a start-up, develops a bathroom cleaning and disinfection robot, and a Japanese joint venture SoftBank Wise, which vacuum the floor. While peanuts are still a prototype, it has not stopped hotel, office and restaurant chains from demanding the robot.
“We’m not actively marketing, but people are still looking for us,” said Joe Agenbran, the company’s chief executive. Now I have orders for hundreds. “
Knightscope makes robots that use artificial intelligence, two-way video and audio to patrol indoors or outdoors. The machine uses thermal imaging, license plate authentication and other software. The robot also has an alert button that allows the caller to speak directly to someone. Stacey Stephens, co-founder and director of Nightscope’s customer service, said demand has been particularly high in casinos and office buildings in recent years.
Based in Italy, Makr Shakr creates robot bartenders who can measure, mix, shake, serve and decorate cocktails with their hands. “Over the past three months, consultations have risen 50 percent from pre-epidemic levels,” said Carlo Rutty, MIT’s Institutional Partner and Professor.
The robots had some widely advertised bugs. In 2019, Knightscope 5 made headlines when a fight broke out in Huntington Park, California, in the area where the robot was. When a woman rushed to the robot for help and pressed the emergency alarm button, the robot repeatedly shouted “Get out of the way” and rolled over to her and the people who were fighting – playing music. An observer called the emergency service.
Stephens said the robot was sent to the customer before the software was fully installed and before the emergency service hotline was connected. Since then, the city has added pride to the robot in reducing crime and has extended its contract for another two years.
Pepper of SoftBank Robotics is said to be a robot who can read people’s emotions, remember faces and interact with people, often receiving negative publicity.
A Swedish university research report in 2018 revealed that Pepper’s technology had serious security vulnerabilities when its biggest flaw came to light. The report says that a breach would allow a hacker to spy on people with Pepper’s cameras and microphones and restrict Pepper’s weapons. Softbank says the security hole is currently being fixed.
“Most of the peppers have already been laid off,” said Tina Marie Gemke, associate professor at Paul State University and author of the 2020 Report on Robotics.
Pepper is not cheap and sold for $ 20,000 to $ 25,000.
SoftBank recently stopped pepper production, sold its majority stake in Boston Dynamics, and laid off half of its 330-member group in France. But Kass Dawson, vice president of brand strategy for SoftBank’s robotics division, insists that pepper production has only been suspended and that its robotics division remains one of the company’s top priorities.
Professionals believe that the labor shortage caused by the epidemic has accelerated the acceptance of robots in the workplace.
“We’re all already comfortable with dealing with robots – this is one of the legacies of the epidemic,” said Craig Lee Clare, Forrester’s vice president and chief researcher. “Robots’ scary appearance can be offset by their advanced auxiliary properties.” /Translation by Anna Maria Doll Louche
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