AI-powered robots deployed to support hospitality talent crunch

Kenichi Yoshida, Chief Business Officer, SoftBank Robotics Group Corp.
Kenichi Yoshida, Chief Business Officer at SoftBank Robotics Group Corp

The Australian hospitality industry is bouncing back from forced closures and restrictions throughout the pandemic, but now it has to redefine itself in the face of a manpower crunch.

SoftBank Robotics Group Corp. (SBR) announced the launch of the tray delivery robot, Keenbot. Supplied by GERMii Australia, Keenbot is now available – and is set to address staffing issues and help revitalise the service industry. GERMii Australia is working with clients across the hospitality industry to help fill service gaps and keep the smile on customers faces.

What does Keenbot bring to the hospitality industry?

Keenbot, by KEENON Robotics, is a tray serving robot designed to automate food service. It is intended for use in tandem with human capabilities, giving businesses a helping hand in delivering efficient customer service. Equipped with multi-point delivery modes, Keenbot can deliver four dishes at one time and its maximum tray loading capacity takes the weight off human wait staff, freeing them up to manage other tasks and focus on serving customers.

With self-developed indoor navigation tech for accuracy, Keenbot can map delivery routes to use the shortest path, even in busy, complex scenarios, ensuring that dishes are delivered fast, and fresh. Inbuilt shock absorbers and a real-time collision detection sensor help Keenbot avoid obstacles reducing the risk of trips, bumps and spills often faced by waiters.

Keenbot has a cruise delivery mode making it convenient for customers to take meals from the tray themselves, and with auto-charge functionality this server can operate 24 hours a day, ideal for filling gaps in the roster or covering extra break times during a busy shift.

In successful a pre-launch trial, Softbank Robotics partner, GERMii Australia, deployed Keenbot at the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park, where it is already proving an invaluable addition to the team. Joe Poovaiya, Director of Food and Beverage, Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park commented, “The service industry, particularly the F&B sector, is only just getting back on its feet following the pandemic and is now facing a new challenge of skills shortage.”

“We have been using robotic tech and solutions in our business to increase our productivity, and now we have introduced Keenbot to our customer-facing food service operations.”

“At first it was quite a novelty, but staff and clients have quickly welcomed Keenbot. We do not expect these cobots to replace the total human element in our service, but rather, we hope for these cobots to further complement and enhance our service efficiency.”

What were the stakeholder thoughts on Keenbot?

Kenichi Yoshida, Chief Business Officer, SoftBank Robotics Group Corp. said, “At SoftBank Robotics we are all about leveraging the technologies to create better solutions.”

“We are excited to introduce Keenbot in Australia to help support the hospitality industry as it refreshes the service sector with innovative solutions that will increase restaurants’ efficiency in customer service and deliver new experiences. We believe the industry is set to unlock new potential in the use of AI, robotics and automation to accelerate the service standard.”

As official Keenbot supplier in Australia, GERMii Australia is working closely with clients across the hospitality industry. “GERMii is a 100% Australian owned tech and services company, and we’re thrilled to be helping the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park supplement their teams to provide outstanding service to guests,” said Harold Van Haltren, CEO, GERMii Australia.

“Our customers are all very happy with the outcomes of increased productivity and service delivery in their business operations. Happy customers are return customers,” Harold added.

Derren Wong, Head of Sales, KEENON Robotics, Australia commented: “At KEENON, we offer a wide range of products and automation solutions to meet various business needs.”

“The dynamic hospitality landscape has propelled the demand for contactless service. We are delighted to be part of the Aussie hospitality industry transformation with the complimentary collaborative approach of cobots, from waiters in restaurants to robotic concierges in hotels, leading to improvements in terms of speed, cost-effectiveness, and guest experience.”