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Softbank's new food service robot Servi could replace waitstaff and food runners at restaurants

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/4/2020 (Mary Meisenzahl)
a woman sitting at a table with a plate of food: Softbank Servi. Reuters © Reuters Softbank Servi. Reuters
  • Japanese company Softbank debuted Servi, a new food service robot.
  • Softbank is the company behind humanoid robot Pepper and the owner of Boston Dynamics.
  • Servi has already worked at Denny's and other restaurants amid Japan's labor shortage.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Japanese tech giant Softbank is testing out a new food service robot in Japan, Reuters reported. Servi, the appropriately-named robot, has several tiers that can be used to deliver food to customers as an answer both to social distancing because of COVID-19 and Japan's labor shortage.

Servi will act as a waiter, with the ability to carry food and drinks from the kitchen to tables. It will use 3D cameras and LIDAR technology to navigate around tables and customers, the same technology used by autonomous vehicles. It officially launches in Japan in January but has already been tested by some restaurants as a way to offer contactless service, including Denny's.

a person sitting at a table: Softbank Servi. Reuters © Reuters Softbank Servi. Reuters

When Servi launches, companies can lease the robot for $950 per month over a three year period. It's made by Bear Robotics in California, which also produced a Servi Mini for serving drinks. The full-size Servi has two trays and a bus tub, while the Servi Mini has one tray and one tub. Both can be controlled by an attached touchscreen or external tablet.

Softbank Servi. Reuters © Reuters Softbank Servi. Reuters

Earlier this year, Bear Robotics raised $32 million in a funding round led by Softbank. Softbank has a history of investing in robotics startups, like Boston Dynamics, the company behind the infamous dog-like robots that went on sale this summer.

Softbank's most famous humanoid robot, Pepper, has also been used throughout the pandemic as a greeter and to ease loneliness among mild COVID-19 cases in Japan. Versions of the robot are also helping customers remain a safe distance apart in German grocery stores, while its Whiz cleaning vacuum robot has been used in hotels and other sites.

Servi. Business Wire © Business Wire Servi. Business Wire
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Video: SoftBank introduces new restaurant robot to Japan (Reuters)


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