Labor shortage? What labor shortage? That’s what Pudu Robotics hopes Dallas restaurants will say if they participate in a free trial of the company’s PuduBot food delivery service robots.
Pudu has opened registrations for a one-week free trial of its PuduBot—an intelligent food delivery robot seen at far right in the photo above. It’s the first such free trial the company has offered in the U.S.
The trial is available to Dallas restaurants, cafes, hotels, offices, hospitals, and other catering operators for a limited time only, the company says. Registration is open through November 23; the campaign ends December 8.
Pudu’s robots have already delivered dishes in Dallas and Fort Worth
Last summer, a La Duni restaurant on McKinney Avenue in Dallas began experimenting with Pudu Robotics’ BellaBot “cat” table-side food delivery robots (seen in photo above, second from left).
Also last summer, Ari Korean BBQ in Plano and Carrollton began using the PuduBot that’s now being offered in the free trial.
Fort Worth’s Japan House, a new sushi-hibachi restaurant in North Richland Hills, began using both the Bella and PuduBot robots this fall.
“I saw one in a restaurant in Plano, and I had to find one,” Wei Lin, a partner in Japan House, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I think the robot will attract people to come, and the food will be what makes them stay.”
PuduBot navigates tables with SLAM technology
Essentially a rolling smart stack of food trays, the PuduBot delivers food and drinks to diners’ tables via contactless delivery. It’s able to navigate around restaurant tables thanks to Pudu’s new SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) technology. The tech enables the robot to “move around smoothly and self-reliantly with great accuracy in mixed environments,” Pudu Robotics said in a statement.
The PuduBots also feature 3D obstacle avoidance technology, enabling faster perception and safer delivery of entrees, drinks, desserts, and the inevitable bill.
Greeting diners and even singing “Happy Birthday”
PuduBots are able to “talk” to diners—greeting them to the restaurant, bringing food to their tables, and even singing “Happy Birthday” like human waiters have long had to do. A small video screen near the top of the robot features rudimentary eyes and mouth icons, designed to animate reassuringly as the device rolls along.
Dallas restaurants are grappling with staff shortages
Like many cities nationwide, Dallas has faced a lingering labor shortage in various industries, including restaurants, which have struggled to attract and keep workers during the pandemic. That creates a need that Pudu is hoping to fill. And by offering the free trial, Pudu is hoping something else, too: that restaurants will want to keep using the robot after the free week ends.
Pudu Robotics recently raised $155 million
Pudu Robotics—which is based in Shenzhen, China—raised $155 million in Series C1 and C2 financing in May and September. The company plans to use the funds for R&D development, new product development, new site launches, and expansion of the company’s global network.
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