If you were to ask a server what their favorite part of their job is, you will probably hear the same answer.
"Connecting with the guests"
What's an answer you will never hear?
"Running food back and forth between the kitchen and the floor"
Luckily for servers, they're getting to focus more on what they love and less on what they don't love, thanks to food delivery robots.
Food delivery robots are popping up everywhere, making the lives of servers, guests, and restaurant owners much better.
But what can food delivery robots do? How do they work? And are they expensive?
We'll answer these important questions and more as we discuss everything you need to know about the next wave of service employees.
What Is The Need For Automating Food Delivery?
The need for automating food delivery service is driven by several factors:
Prioritizing Guest Experience: Freed from the routine task of carrying plates from the kitchen to the tables, servers can focus on personalized interactions, recommendations, and addressing specific customer needs. This elevated level of service can create a more memorable and enjoyable dining atmosphere, leading to higher customer satisfaction and potential for increased tips.
Hotter Food: Delivery robots often come equipped with three to four trays, allowing them to carry much more than one human with a single serving tray. By having the capacity to carry more dishes at once, guests are able to have their food delivered faster, which translates to a hotter, better tasting meal.
Quicker Table Turnaround Time: Food delivery robots don't just deliver food faster. They can also greatly increase the speed of carrying dishes back to the kitchen. This can quicken the overall process of turning a table around, translating to more revenue generated for the business.
For Restaurant Owners
Labor Shortages: As of January 2023, the restaurant industry is still struggling to fill 450,000 jobs and 79% of hotels are facing staffing shortages. The massive amount of unfilled jobs in the restaurant industry indicates that servers have found new careers and aren't coming back anytime soon.
Rising Labor Costs: To try and entice food service workers to re-enter the hospitality industry, businesses have been raising wages. As a whole, the hospitality industry has increased the pay of their workers by 16% since the pandemic began, which is significantly higher than the 3-4% yearly increase they have historically received.
How does a Food Delivery Robot Work?
The process for completing a food delivery with our Matradee L delivery robot is as follows:
Order Placement: The process begins with the placement of the order. Once the chefs receive the order, they begin working on fulfilling it.
Meanwhile, Matradee L waits to receive the prepared meal at the pickup point. Most of the restaurants where we have installed Matradee Ls choose to designate the expediting area as the pickup point, but the pickup point could be mapped elsewhere if necessary.
Order Dispatch: Once the order has been prepared, the chef or expeditor loads the food into one of three or four trays and selects the table that Matradee L should travel to. The expeditor/chef can select which tray corresponds to which table, which enables Matradee L to carry multiple tables worth of food without delivering food to the wrong table.
Once they have loaded all dishes up, they can select to send Matradee L out using fast delivery or slow delivery. Slow delivery can come in handy when delivering soups or beverages, as an extra precaution to avoid spills.
The Robot's Journey to the Table: Once commanded, Matradee L will begin to make its way to the table. Along the way, it will constantly be scanning its environment for moving objects, using a combination of 3D cameras and LiDAR technology.
Matradee L will also adhere to any boundaries or slow zones set during the installation process. If multiple Matradee Ls are working on the same floor, they will communicate with each other and calculate the most efficient route to take.
Arrival at the Table: When Matradee L arrives at the table, it greets the guest with a friendly "Table number ___, your order is ready! Please take it from tray ___." This speech is completely customizable, and some of the businesses we've worked with have taken advantage of this to make Matradee L say phrases that flawlessly reflect their individual brand experiences.
From here, guests can take their own food off the tray, but most businesses choose to keep a floor manager available to hand the food from the trays to the guest.
Back to Work: Once Matradee L has completed its delivery, the floor manager presses a button to send it to its next destination, or the robot automatically leaves after a customizable amount of time. Next, Matradee L will visit the next table to drop off more food, or return to the pickup point to wait for the next deliveries.
What Are the Types of Food Delivery Robots?
There's a diverse range of delivery robots. Let's explore:
Indoor Food Delivery Robots
These are by far the most popular type of delivery robot. These intelligent delivery robots thrive in environments such as restaurants, cafes, senior living homes, and movie theaters, using smart obstacle avoidance to navigate these dynamic environments and deliver food very efficiently.
Elevator Enabled Food Delivery Robot
These autonomous delivery robots use cutting edge technologies to interact with elevators to complete deliveries without having to press buttons. This type of robot can complete secure deliveries to hotels and hospitals.
Outdoor Food Delivery Robots
Built for the great outdoors! These are the all-weather, all-terrain warriors that tackle sidewalks, roads, and even potholes.
What are the Uses for Food Delivery Robots?
These autonomous robots aren't just one-trick ponies. They have several applications:
The most common use. Your meal arrives hot and hassle-free.
Bussing mode can be used to clear dishes and reset tables in record time.
With cruise mode, autonomous robots can visit dropoff points on a constant loop. This is great for handing out water or clearing dishes in a buffet setting.
Imagine being led to your table by a robot. Fun, right?
Matradee L has a high quality screen that can be used to promote daily specials or upcoming events.
How Much Does a Food Delivery Robot Cost?
Delivery robots can range in pricing, however, for the specific tasks they’re designed for, all of our delivery robot models are much more cost effective than a human employee, which means you can save money and time in those tasks while your humans handle more important things.
What is the Learning Curve for Restaurants using Robots?
Transitioning to robotic delivery can sound daunting, but it's quite user-friendly. Post the initial setup and a few days of staff training, it's mostly about monitoring and minor human intervention.
“There literally isn’t anything you have to do to maintain [Matradee L].”
Bruce Groft, Regional Dining Services Support Manager, Presbyterian Senior Living
Are Food Delivery Robots Safe?
Safety is truly a number one priority for our robots. There are several safety features we build into our Matradee L:
Multiple Sensors: Matradee Ls use a combination of LiDAR sensors and 3D cameras that give the robot a full picture of any objects within a 3 foot radius.
Speed Zones/Maximum speed: During installation, Matradee Ls can be programmed to adhere to "slow zones". When navigating through these zones, they will slow down their delivery service.
Virtual Boundaries: Another map feature that Richtech technicians program during Matradee L implementations are virtual boundaries that prevent the machines from venturing into places they shouldn’t go.
Emergency Stop Button: One quick press of this shiny red button will stop Matradee L in its tracks and allow you to move it manually.
Wrapping up, delivery robots are revolutionizing the way we operate food delivery service. They're not just about the 'cool' factor but offer tangible benefits for servers, restaurant guests, and operators. So the next time you go out to dinner, just know you might be served by a robot.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Timothy Tanksley is the marketing director of Richtech Robotics and a former member of the technical team. From childhood onwards, Timothy has tinkered with robotics and automation and loved every minute of it.
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