Robotics supplier to the hospitality industry, SoftBank Robotics, and Compass Group, have been shortlisted for an award that recognises their innovative application of robotic solutions in foodservice.
The Robotics & Automation Awards celebrate the latest innovations and highest achievements across the world of robotics and automation, with awards made in a range of categories, including best use of robotics and automation.
SoftBank Robotics and Compass have been shortlisted in the ‘best use of robotics or automation in food and beverage’ category, with the winner to be announced at an awards ceremony at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London on October 31.
The two companies made it onto the shortlist after SoftBank installed its ‘Keenbot’ tray delivery robots in Compass Group’s head office in Chertsey.
In a four-week pilot, the robots – also referred to as ‘cobots’ because of their collaborative work alongside humans, were used to deliver food in the on-site restaurants and across other parts of the building where 200 team members are based.
This included providing meals to tables, taking away empty plates, and using sound and voice features to enhance customer engagement.
Due to the success of the trial and the metrics collected, Compass has now deployed cobots throughout its Global HQ restaurants and to serve conference rooms, as well as supplying them to several large clients.
Charles Elliott, a regional General Manager for Compass Group, said: “The robots have helped improve efficiency within the workplace by allowing table service to be delivered whilst the catering team are still serving customers on the counter. It also adds innovation to the site which has sparked attraction from other clients.”
Compass wanted to explore the introduction of cobots as part of its mission to implement digital technology and innovative solutions that help support frontline teams and meet the needs of clients and end users.
With the current people and skills shortages faced by hospitality, coupled with increased customer demand for high-quality, ultra-convenient, technology-led services, cobots offered a realistic and cost-effective solution.
Compass is using two models of Keenbot from SoftBank Robotics: the T5 tray delivery cobot for restaurant service, and the W3 room service cobot to deliver food and drink to other areas within a building.
Both are equipped with a 3D camera and a lidar (light detection and ranging) system, similar to the kind of technology used in self-drive cars. This laser mapping system enables the cobots to navigate to the desired location, avoiding people and obstacles.
The W3 also has the capability to communicate with the in-house telephone system and with lifts, enabling it to deliver room service orders autonomously to any floor.
Users can operate multiple cobots all at once through their mobile device, and with the cobots taking care of the bussing side of hospitality, staff are free to get on with other tasks that enhance the guest experience.
During the initial pilot, the T5 completed 142 trips during breakfast delivery, the W3 completed 38 trips for hospitality deliveries, and in total the robots covered a distance of 2,147 metres.
Harry Ridley, Automation and Emerging Technology manager for Compass, said: “The trials at Compass Group HQ at Chertsey were a great success. Off the back of these trials, a large amount of data metrics has been collected, including hours of operators’ time saved, increased customer satisfaction and improved service times. In particular, the tray robot has provided tangible benefits in all of these metrics.
“It is a no-brainer to deploy robots throughout our global HQ restaurants and to serve conference rooms. We are already expanding our cobotic service solution to several large clients, both in the university education sector and business and industry space, with more planned in the next few months in partnership with SoftBank.”
About Softbank Robotics
SoftBank Robotics is driving technology forward by becoming a worldwide leader in robotics solutions. The company is rapidly expanding, with offices in Tokyo, San Francisco, Boston, London, Paris, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Singapore, Sydney, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.
SoftBank Robotics is constantly exploring and commercializing robotics solutions that help make people’s lives easier, safer, more connected, and more extraordinary. SoftBank Robotics’ robots are used in more than 70 countries worldwide, offering innovative solutions relevant in the fields of tourism, retail, healthcare, finance, education, facilities management, cleaning, warehouse, and logistics.
More information about SoftBank Robotics can be seen on their website here.