Bear Robotics has officially launched the second-generation version of its Penny restaurant robot. The autonomous robot, which shuttles food and dishes between the front and back of house, now features a versatile tray system for carrying more and different types of items.
With its new design, Penny has lost its bowling pin shape and single carrying surface. Instead, Penny 2.0 is more cylindrical in shape, and can sport up to three tiers of carrying surface. Not only can Penny carry more, a new swappable tray system means it can be configured to carry any combination of food, drinks or bus tub.
On the inside, Bear updated the smarts of Penny, giving the robot enhanced obstacle-avoidance technology, and while the company didn’t go into specifics, a tablet can now be attached to Penny for expanded customer interaction capabilities.
Penny 2.0 is being shown at the National Restaurant Association trade show this weekend and is available now. While Bear doesn’t disclose actual pricing, Penny is offered on a monthly subscription, which includes the robot, setup and mapping of a restaurant and technical support.
Penny is among a wave of robots coming to restaurants in the near future: Flippy makes burgers and fries up chicken tenders, Dishcraft is still stealthily working on automating tasks in the kitchen, and there are entire establishments like Creator and Spyce built around robotic cooking systems.
Any discussion of automation always involves the loss of human jobs. John Ha, CEO of Bear Robotics, actually owned a restaurant and built Penny after noticing how hard servers work, often for little pay. By automating the expediting of food and bussing, Bear aims to free up humans to provide higher levels of customer service (ideally earning those humans higher tips).
Ha and Linda Pouliot, CEO of Dishcraft recently spoke at our recent Articulate Food Robotics conference about the challenges restaurants face, and how robotics can help. You can watch their session in full right here.