Last year was a big one for restaurant server robots, those self-driving trays on wheels that shuttle food from the kitchen to your table and take your empty dishes back. Yes, the pandemic closed many restaurants in the U.S., but companies like Bear Robotics, Pudu Robotics, and Keenon Robotics all made news with their particular autonomous service bots.
All of those autonomous robots, however still require a human to manually transfer food to the table or pick up the dirty dishes and place them back on the robot. And as we live in a COVID world that values fewer human-to-human interactions, this is where Smile Robotics‘ robot could come in handy. The Japanese company has developed the ACUR-C, which can autonomously serve food and drinks or collect trays of dirty or empty dishes and carry them off.
You can check it out for yourself in this video Smile Robotics posted last year:
That video only shows off the bussing aspect of the robot, and even that capability won’t set any speed records. A human would be able to clear those tables in a fraction of the time it takes the robot. But it’s a start, and as with all things robot, the technology is only going to improve.
The ACUR-C is fully self-driving robot. In other words, it doesn’t need ceiling or floor markers to “see” and navigate around a restaurant. It can carry multiple trays, and the “hands” of the robotic arm can be swapped out to either collect or serve items. We reached out to Smile Robotics to find out more and will update this post when we hear back.
It’s super easy to see the ACUR-C fitting into a restaurant like the Country Garden robot restaurant complex in Guangdong, China. That restaurant has robot servers and food descending from ceilings, but nothing (as far as we know) that will automatically bus the tables.
Smile Robotics, however, could be thinking a little closer to home. Japan has an aging population and is facing a resulting labor shortage. A robot table server + busser combo will undoubtedly find a lot of use there.