Bear Robotics' Penny is a self-driving robot tasked with carrying food and beverages to customers. The robot is designed specifically to navigate across a busy dining room and debuted at the 2018 National Restaurant Association trade show, according to Nation's Restaurant News.
The robot is in service at a handful of restaurants in Los Angeles, a senior living center in California, along with restaurants and cafes in Tokyo and Seoul.
"We aim to allow servers to spend more time with their customers and have robots do the tedious work," Bear Robotics co-founder John Ha wrote in a Medium post. This, we believe, enables the best possible employee and customer experience.
Why It's Important
Softbank said in a statement obtained by RNR it sees a role for robotics to facilitate the ordering, running, and delivering food aspects of running a restaurant business. The food-service industry is estimated at $800 billion in the U.S. alone and Softbank said its new investment can "improve the lives of customers, employees, and owners."
Now that the company secured $32 million worth of new capital, the robot could be ready for mass production.
"Down the road, we hope to hear people saying, 'Running a successful restaurant is so much simpler and easier thanks to Bear Robotics'," Ha also wrote. "And with a recent Series A investment of $32 million led by SoftBank Group, we're excited to open the next chapter of our journey."
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