SoftBank’s introduces food service robot to mitigate labor shortages

On Monday, the robotics arm of Japanese conglomerate SoftBank stated, it will start using its food service robot developed by California-based Bear Robotics in Japanese restaurants as a means to tackle growing labor shortages faced by the country.

Servi, the robot, comes with features which includes layers of trays and is equipped with Lidar sensors for navigation as well as 3D cameras, said SoftBank Group Corp.

Servi will cost 99,800 yen ($950) per month excluding tax on a three year plan.

Servi’s launch in Japan underscores a moving away from SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son’s earlier focus on humanoid robots and leverages its long experience in bringing overseas technology to the mainland.

Servi has already been tested by many Japanese restaurant operators, including Seven & i Holdings’ Denny’s chain.

The development comes at a time when the food service industry is grappling with an aging workforce and worsening labor shortages.

In 2014, SoftBank had unveiled its humanoid Pepper robot which became the face of the company but failed to gain traction globally.

In 2018, it unveiled its cleaning robot Whiz which has sold more than 10,000 units globally. SoftBank is marketing Whiz as a means to mitigate issues surrounding coronavirus and on Monday is said, customers can use Pepper in conjunction with thermal sensors to monitor customers.

SoftBank also owns Boston Dynamics, the maker of the four-legged robotic military dog Spot.

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