March 21, 2023
Devn Ratz

The Restaurant Robot: What It Means for Food Service (and Staff)

From making salads to assembling pizzas and taking orders, it seems robots and restaurant artificial intelligence is everywhere in today’s restaurant scene. 

In some locations, Little Caesar’s sports robot pizza-makers, while others like McDonald’s and Starbucks have each automated the drive-thru and ordering machines. Clearly, the benefit of using robots in commercial kitchens means more labor efficiency and an overall financial benefit for some of the most successful and well-known restaurant leaders.

Some of the reasons we’ve seen so much development in the world of AI and robots are efficiency, cost reduction, safety, sanitation, and profit enhancement. Labor solutions and shortages are also a weight on the need for consistent, confident food service.

See how you might entertain the idea of robots in your business, and find out what it could mean. Learn the impact of the restaurant robot through this post. 

Key Takeaway: While prohibitively priced, restaurant robots improve efficiency by effectively reducing repetitive, rote tasking for in-house service and labor.
Learn to use restaurant robots and AI for your business growth with our guide to restaurant data intelligence.

Current Uses of Restaurant Robots

Most commonly, restaurant robots are leveraged against the repetitious tasks that sap time and energy from the concerns that matter. At the same time, they bring the benefit of better (or, more consistent) food quality as well as increased efficiency. 

Here are a few examples to get you started with the diversity of applications for the restaurant robot:

  • Sally by Chowbotics. Sally is a salad-making robot who can mix 8 ingredients at a time, in 90 seconds or less. Her arms mimic the motions of a true chef. 
  • Flippy at White Castle. Then, there’s the burger-making robot of CaliBurger-and-White Castle fame.
  • Makeline by Hyphen. More ambitiously, this assembly machine can prepare at least 350 meals per hour—which is quite a lot by comparison to several cooks. 

Overall, advancements in automating meal ordering and preparation reduce labor costs, cut human errors, and boost cleanliness in commercial kitchens and enterprise restaurants. Consistent production schedules and smooth, streamlined service are other advantages of such restaurant management systems

But, some restaurants are more daring than others, especially as robotic waiters take the place of traditional, human servers in some establishments. These robots greet guests, arrange seating, deliver food, pour drinks, and even clear dishes. 

What they don’t currently do is appear cost-effective or well-received. The public continues to mount backlash against the unfamiliarity of robot restaurant assistance—just as in other fields, businesses, and domains of life. Nevertheless, incentives remain.

Restaurant Robot Benefits for Enterprise

Restaurant robots obviously increase food quality, revenue increases, efficiency, productivity, safety, and sanitation—at present. Currently, they are not designed or intended to replace the importance of human interaction, especially when one considers their maintenance, repair, and purchase costs. 

In the future, restaurants and other enterprises may find that increased robotics and restaurant automation are suited as an investment opportunity. And so, the benefits of restaurant robots are likely to evolve, increasing the complexity of staffing and more. 

We know that streamlining and maintaining consistency is central to improved restaurant experiences for customers, but this also applies for staff and management. The factors at play are complex and still being spelled out through case studies, literature, and the experimental deployment of AI. 

Challenges for Restaurant Robot Uses

Technical questions, operational puzzles, and general confusion descends quickly on the decision to implement or even test restaurant robots in new locations. 

They are getting more skilled at recognizing food stuff and developing the skills to work with these “objects in space.” The same cannot be said for their people skills or intuitive processing for creative, novel solutions to complex and unexpected work conditions. 

For instance, a robot can suffer with indecision when presented with informal, disorganized, and confusing material in 3D space. Of course, these robots only continue to improve and learn from their errors. Despite these expected learning curves, the food industry continues to adopt these “disruptive food technologies.” They continue therefore to speed service and augment labor concerns. 

At the same time, even restaurants with robots now may face legal issues in the future, especially as the public continues to pressure companies to restrict their deployment of technologies without known effect, safety, or sentience.

Job Market Impacts from Restaurant Robotics

At its base, you can see that the adoption of restaurant robots is very simply motivated by the aim to reduce tasks of little to no importance for staffing dollars. Secondly, there’s the interest in more precision and control, but these come back to the growing pressure on restaurant labor.

Ultimately, robot implementation and integration is not guaranteed to succeed. Though, robots and their programming are generally regarded as logical, dependable, and useful machines. Still, others resist them with a view on their employment security. 

Many argue that robot waiters, pizza-makers, and salad-mixers have saved considerable time from over-burdened staff. Others highlight that human employees need the work that robots are so adept at doing better and faster than their warm-blooded counterparts.

If advancements and continued support for AI and robotics continue, it seems inevitable that the hospitality industry and restaurant sector will push productivity in their direction. As they fill gaps left by people, they will start to see less consequence from the shortage of workers.

Schedule a demo with Revolution Ordering to see the impact of automated technology in restaurant service.

Frequently Asked Questions About Restaurant Robots

As the restaurant industry continues to witness break-neck growth into the domain of robots, AI, and automation, the focus is efficiency. Many still have questions about restaurant robotics and whether they post a threat to the livelihood of humans. 

Get a better understanding of how effective robot waiters are, and what you can expect from different types of AI used in restaurant applications. 

What are restaurant robots called?

You may have heard people refer to robot waiters or “automated restaurant systems” or “integrated restaurant software.” These machines–each robotic in their way–are designed to aid with tasks like taking orders, serving food, and predicting business. 

As such, restaurant robots are often named according to their function, such as in cleaning tables and supporting the customer experience

Will robots replace restaurant workers?

Many restaurants have implemented robots as part of their in-house operations. Still, most restaurateurs seem confident that these machines will never completely replace the need for human workers.

Robots are currently most helpful in performing repetitive, rote tasks like taking down verbatim orders and delivering food to tables. They lack advanced creativity, flexibility, and social skills that human workers bring to the restaurant experience. Personal, friendly, and high-touch hospitality services are still human. 

Beyond this, implementing robots can be prohibitively expensive upfront for smaller restaurants, especially with multiple locations. They also require maintenance and repair.

How is AI used in restaurants?

Restaurants most typically use AI to advance their current effectiveness in predicting orders, automating tasks, conversing with customers, and personalizing their experiences.

  • Automation. Restaurant AI tools already help to automate inventory ordering and tracking among many other tasks. 
  • Prediction. Restaurant data analytics helps restaurants spot trends, and machine learning takes this skill further. 
  • Chatbots. Language modeling helps restaurants keep customers informed, especially after online order placement
  • Personalization. Artificial intelligence already analyzes orders in tools like Revolution Ordering to predict business needs.

Leverage simple tech solutions for your restaurant to revolutionize your operations and provide outstanding customer satisfaction every time.