NBA fans heading to Toyota Center to see the Houston Rockets now have the option of getting drinks and snacks served by a robot. Bear Robotics announced on Linkedin yesterday that it has partnered with Levy Restaurants and the Houston Rockets to use its Servi bot at games.
The Houston Rockets posted a promotional video to its official YouTube channel, showing the Servi robot in action along with a caption saying this was the “first-ever robot-assisted food and beverage service at a stadium or arena.”
No further details were posted either by Bear Robotics or the Houston Rockets, so we don’t know where in the stadium the robot is serving or how a person can get the robot service. UPDATE: a Levy Restaurants rep emailed us the following:
During the Rockets remaining games of the 2020-21 season, hospitality team members at Toyota Center will be assisted by an autonomous food service robot. This pilot program will start in Toyota Center’s premium all-inclusive Suite Club to allow team members to focus on providing industry-leading service to fans while the robot performs more routine and physically demanding tasks.
The robot will circulate dining spaces inside the premium space while carrying pre-packaged food and beverage items for guests to pick from. This pilot program will allow Toyota Center staff to learn more about the robot and how it could be potentially utilized in more areas next season.
While this may be the first robot server at a stadium, it is not the first time stadiums — or Levy Restaurants — have employed food-related robots. Both Dodger Stadium and Diamondback’s Chase Field used Miso Robotics’ Flippy robot to fry up chicken tenders and tater tots. And Centerplate Pizza at Safeco Park used Picnic’s pizza assembling robot.
Prior to the pandemic, stadiums were actually a great place to employ automation. Stadiums are packed with lots of people who want good (not necessarily artisanal) food quickly. Robots are able to crank out a steady stream of food made consistently, without taking a break. And as vaccines roll out and stadiums cautiously re-open, robots have another benefit — contactless delivery. Removing a human server eliminates another point of human-to-human transmission, which some wary fans might find more comforting when venturing back out into the world.
If you’re a Rockets fan going to the game, see if you can spot the robot and take a picture for us! If you’re just a fan of food robotics, then you should definitely attend our ArticulATE food robotics and automation virtual summit on May 18. It’s a full day devoted to discussing the most cutting-edge innovation in the robotics space. Get your ticket today!