Restaurant chain Bella Italia is testing ROBOT WAITERS that could help fill hospitality staff shortages

A cat-shaped robot waiter has done its first shift at a UK restaurant chain and could be used to help tackle staff shortages in the hospitality industry.

The BellaBot, a delivery robot created by Chinese tech company Pudu, has been recruited by the Bella Italia branch of Center Parcs Whinfell Forest in Cumbria.

The robot can weave between tables and the kitchen, with human staff or customers only having to load and unload trays.

The trial by Big Table Group, owner of Bella Italia, Café Rouge, Las Iguanas and other UK restaurant chains, marks the first use of the BellaBot in a large restaurant.

The company said it launched the trial to “drive innovation and improve the dining experience”, and is now “the UK’s largest restaurant chain to introduce robotic technology”.

The BellaBot, a cat-shaped delivery robot created by Chinese tech company Pudu, has been recruited by the Bella Italia branch at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest in Cumbria

Each BellaBot is capable of making up to 400 deliveries per day, of which 20 can work at the same time.  He is able to navigate around obstacles and his robot companions

Each BellaBot is capable of making up to 400 deliveries per day, of which 20 can work at the same time. He is able to navigate around obstacles and his robot companions

The kitchen staff will place the food on one of the feline robot's shelves, before programming it to go to the appropriate table and where it will ask the restaurant to remove its dishes.

The kitchen staff will place the food on one of the feline robot’s shelves, before programming it to go to the appropriate table and where it will ask the restaurant to remove its dishes.

In the shape of a cat, the robot “meows” even to the guests to encourage them to take their plates

In the shape of a cat, the robot “meows” even to the guests to encourage them to take their plates

HOW BELLABOT WORKS

Customers place a food order using the app, which is passed on to the kitchen staff

They then place the food on one of the BellaBot’s four shelves

He goes to a table and lights up the shelf that holds their food.

Bella then says to the diners, for example: “Table 52, please take the plates from the shelf with the blue light”

He is able to move to up to three other tables in a single exit from the kitchen, repeating the process

In an average week during testing, BellaBot traveled 67 miles

The robot can talk to diners and even sing Happy Birthday if needed

It costs around £14,500 for a single BellaBot, which is below the full-time minimum wage for a human employee

Bellabot has four shelves, so it can serve four tables at once and even talk to diners in the process.

Shaped like a cat, the robot “meows” even to the guests to encourage them to take their plates.

Each of the trays can support a load of 22 lbs (10 kg), which is monitored by infrared induction.

This frees up other staff to deal with emotional customer needs, such as complaints or specifying dietary requirements.

It only takes five hours to charge the robot’s battery to full capacity, and it can last up to 24 hours on a single charge.

Each BellaBot is thus capable of making up to 400 deliveries per day, 20 of which can work at the same time.

He is able to navigate around obstacles and his robot companions.

The guide price for the friendly-faced bots is $20,000 (£14,500), which is less than the cost of employing a minimum wage waiter for 40 hours a week.

The kitchen staff will place the food on one of the feline robot’s shelves, before it rushes to the appropriate table and invites the waiting diner to remove their dishes.

It can also be programmed to perform certain movements in the restaurant to allow customers to take the desired dish in a buffet-like environment.

At the Whinfell Forest site, the robots are set to spin around the side of the table to allow human wait staff to hand over the plates.

For special occasions, the robot can even play and entertain, like singing “Happy Birthday.”

Spark, the company that distributes Pudu robots in the UK, said there are currently 60 BellaBots working across 20 UK businesses.

Most are in restaurants, like The Chinese Buffet, but they are also stationed in hotels, supermarkets, bowling alleys and nursing homes.

The surge in sales comes with an ongoing crisis in the hospitality industry, with 10% of jobs in the sector still vacant after the pandemic according to trade body UKHospitality.

The ripple effects of Brexit also contribute to this statistic, as many European workers have been pressured to leave the country.

Bellabot is already serving Chinese Buffet customers in the North West of England

Bellabot is already serving Chinese Buffet customers in the North West of England

The feline robot will meow at customers to signal them to take their food trays, and can even perform entertainment like singing

The feline robot will meow at customers to signal them to take their trays of food, and can even perform entertainment such as singing “Happy Birthday”

Bellabot has four shelves to serve four tables at once and even talk to diners in the process

Each tray can support a load of 10 kg, which is monitored by infrared induction

Bellabot has four shelves so can serve four tables at once and even talk to diners in the process. Each tray can support a load of 10 kg, which is monitored by infrared induction

The Center Parcs agency in Bella Italia was chosen precisely because it has longer distances between the kitchen and the tables.

Lisa Gibbons, Chief Operating Officer at Bella Italia, said: “We are always open to innovative solutions that benefit our teams, improve service and improve our customer experience, so we are thrilled to pilot the BellaBot.

“By having smart robots perform simple tasks like picking up dirty dishes, our teams can focus on what they love and deliver an amazing experience.

“We’re still in the early days of the trial, but we can’t wait to see the impact an extra pair of ‘legs’ will have on culinary satisfaction.”

Will a robot take YOUR job? Scientists have revealed the occupations most at risk of being replaced by a machine

While the idea of ​​a robot taking your job may sound like the plot of the latest episode of Black Mirror, a new study has warned it could become a reality for many people in the future.

Researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have revealed which jobs are most and least likely to be filled by robots

In the study, the team combined scientific and technical literature on robotic capabilities with employment and salary statistics on 1,000 jobs.

This allowed them to calculate which existing tasks were most likely to be performed by robots in the future.

Their findings suggest that meat packers, cleaners and builders are at greatest risk of being replaced by machines, while teachers, lawyers and physicists are safe

Learn more here

Researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have revealed which jobs are most and least likely to be filled by robots

Researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have revealed which jobs are most and least likely to be filled by robots

About Vivian J. Smith

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