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How do robot waiters work in restaurants?

By November 1, 2023November 8th, 2023No Comments

Imagine walking into a restaurant and being greeted by a robot waiter who can take your order, answer questions about the menu, and even make recommendations based on your preferences. Welcome to the future of dining! This sci-fi scenario is now a reality, and TUFF Robotics, a leading provider of world-class robotics solutions, is transforming the hospitality industry.

Our team developed robot waiters that revolutionize the way we dine out. These high-tech machines are designed to enhance the customer experience by providing efficient, accurate, and interactive service. In this article, we talk about the fascinating world of robot waiters, exploring how they work, the benefits they offer, and how they are changing the landscape of the restaurant industry.

How does a robot waiter work?

Robot waiters rely on several advanced technologies, such as sensors and cameras for navigation, touchscreen interfaces for communication, and secured compartments for order transport. Designs may vary based on the particular needs of the restaurant, but the main functions usually involve delivering food and beverages to the guests and performing standard communication for customer engagement. More importantly, robot waiters help reduce the daily workload of human staff and create an extraordinary dining experience for customers.

Here’s a sneak peek into the capabilities of TUFF robot waiters and the technologies behind them.   

  • Navigation. Robot waiters navigate their route in indoor spaces using built-in sensors and cameras. Sensors help them avoid obstacles and maneuver through crowded areas safely. Some technologies we use for our robot models are LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), ultrasonic sensors, or computer vision to perceive complex surroundings.
  • Communication. We program most robot waiters to interact with customers and staff through verbal communication and touchscreen interfaces. Another area that makes us above par is a large screen that can display advertisements. Users can easily go on a web browser, log into their account, and change the promotional images when they notice creative fatigue.
  • Compartment. Trays or compartments are available to hold and transport food and drinks. We utilize secure locking mechanisms to prevent spillage during delivery.
  • Delivery. Once an order is ready, our robot waiter picks it up from the kitchen and navigates to the customer’s table with sensors and maps. There is a combination of technologies (pre-mapped data, real-time sensor data, and localization algorithms) for the robot to find its way to the table.
  • Interaction. Upon arrival at the table, a robot can notify customers that their order is ready and open its tray or compartment to serve the food and beverages. It can initiate conversations with customers through polite greetings and expressions.
  • Return. Once delivered, the robot returns to the kitchen or a designated service area to pick up the following order.

Our robot waiters aim to provide the most efficient service in an F&B setting. We develop them to simulate the role of a waiter as closely as possible, taking on multiple tasks and assisting human workers. In short, robot waiters offer reliable and safe alternatives for business owners to resolve staffing issues and enhance customer experience via a unique dining environment.

How the staff engages with the robots

Human staff will contribute the most to the success of implementing robot workers in your restaurant. They help create detailed maps of the restaurant layout for programming the robots’ navigation system. In addition, they can participate in designing travel paths for the robots, table location, kitchen or service area direction, and so on, as the robot waiters must cooperate hand-in-hand with them daily to serve customers.

Our technicians offer instant support remotely through cloud-based services. That said, we still count on human employees to report any problems promptly to avoid disrupted services. In case technical issues arise, the staff will be first to troubleshoot and respond to challenges. For example, suppose there is a change in the restaurant layout, like a rearrangement of furniture that causes robot waiters to travel out of their designated paths. In that case, we can adjust and update the robots online accordingly.

Also, robots can produce simple conversations and phrases in up to 50 languages when configured, whereas AI technology allows them to answer various questions. To ensure smooth collaboration, TUFF Robotics robot waiters are equipped with interactive screens to communicate with customers and other staff members. With quick, proper training, your employees can master the new skills and begin working alongside robotic assistance on the same day.

Advantages and disadvantages of robot waiters

Explore the upsides and downs of having robot waiters in your business. By understanding the pros and cons, you can optimize your robotic staff to suit your establishment’s unique requirements and ambiance.


Let’s start by uncovering the benefits of incorporating robot waiters into your restaurant. 

  • Robustness and reliability. Robots can operate tirelessly with little maintenance and downtime. They can carry up to 80 pounds without hesitation, leading to faster and more efficient service in comparison to human workers.  
  • Cost-effectiveness. Robot waiters give you an alternative to hiring more employees, thus decreasing labor costs and improving your profit margin. As a result, you can avoid the need to hire new staff at minimum wage rates and prevent your current loyal employees from having to take on extra work hours.
  • Attractive novelty. Robot waiters can draw the attention of customers who feel fascinated by futuristic technologies. You can even enjoy some free marketing on social media if they post viral videos of your robots online.
  • Efficient and precise service. It is undeniable that robots make fewer mistakes and deliver more orders than average human staff. With assistance from robots, your restaurant can operate more efficiently without compromising the quality of service.
  • Consistent quality. The key to customer satisfaction is always consistent quality. If human waiters feel tired towards the end of their shift, robots ensure the same service quality throughout the entire time.
  • Enhanced hygiene. Robot waiters help your restaurant promote hygiene and food safety through contactless service, minimizing the risk of germ transmission. This is even more applicable after we have been through the pandemic.
  • Unique dining experience. Having some robot waiters around your restaurant adds a distinctive element to its ambiance, creating an engaging atmosphere for patrons. It will give you a competitive advantage, especially with some rivals nearby.
  • Future technological advancements. If you advocate for technology advancements, don’t stop showcasing it in your restaurant. Acquiring robot waiters supports the industry, creating more opportunities for ongoing innovation and improvement that eventually bring you more benefits in the future.
  • Labor shortage solution. Amid a labor shortage due to unexpected events, having robot waiters as part of your business operation is an excellent solution. With robots as a substitute, you’ll be relieved if one of your human staff suddenly doesn’t show up for work.
  • Mitigation of staff fatigue. Robot waiters offer the potential to reduce employee burnout, allowing human staff to take a break or simply more time to interact with customers. Instead of an exhausting shift, your workers can enjoy their jobs as robots perform the muscle-demanding tasks. 

Human staff will be free from the monotonous tasks of their job


Now, let’s shift our focus to the other side and examine the potential drawbacks of employing robot waiters in your establishment.

  • Layout suitability. Unfortunately, not every restaurant layout is compatible with robot waiters. If your restaurant floor is uneven, they might not be a good idea for you. Another example is an outdoor restaurant where robots cannot move around in some weather conditions.
  • Technology adoption challenges. Customers and staff accustomed to more conventional approaches may hesitate to embrace new technology, learn something new, or explore different opportunities. In those cases it might be challenging for restaurant owners to implement robotic technology into the day-to-day operations.
  • Incompatibility with fine dining. Robot waiters might not blend well with the ambiance of fine dining establishments. The distinctive futuristic vibe they bring may not align with the high level of attention to detail and personalization expected in fine dining, which can present a mismatch with the experience fine dining patrons seek.
  • Human superiority. Though robot waiters can carry on heavy, boring tasks, they don’t possess a full set of capabilities compared to humans. This may include problem-solving skills, reactions to certain situations, and duties that require complex activities.
  • Unforeseen technical issues. As with other machines, robot waiters can face unexpected errors in software and hardware functionality. These failures could disrupt service and affect the dining experience of customers.

To sum up, there are pros and cons to acquiring robot waiters. However, depending on your current circumstances, you will need to decide whether or not to adopt robots into your restaurant operations. They will work differently case by case, and there are no standard results for going automated in the business.

What type of restaurant robots does TUFF Robotics have on offer?

TUFF Robotics currently offers three models of robot waiters for selection, which are the MINI, LINK, and LINK Pro. Among these options, LINK robots are the most favorable choice for restaurants with proven success stories. Our products are present in many facilities and establishments, and some of our notable clients are Nozomi Sushi, Icanbbq, Ijji Noodle House, and OC Fish & Grill. On top of that, you can also see our robots expand outside the restaurant industry as they operate at DoubleTree Monrovia and OceanView Santa Monica.

Our cloud-based support provides remote assistance for any technical issues our robot waiters face. We can solve the majority of problems online, minimizing downtime and maintaining business efficiency. This service is included with your subscription plan, with no additional charges for remote troubleshooting or assistance calls.

Setup and training process

Our mission is to provide robot waiters that serve food and beverages, create a unique customer experience, and enhance operational efficiency. Therefore, we work our all hearts to make it straightforward for you and your staff during the setup and training process.

For the setup:

  • Customization and programming. Once you subscribe, you will need to customize robots for the specific requirements of your restaurant. This step involves configuring the assistant navigation system, language support, and any specialized features you may request.
  • Creating maps and navigation paths. Your staff will work with our technicians to create detailed maps of the restaurant layout. We then use the maps to program the navigation system, such as designated paths and the location of the kitchen, furniture, and other key areas. If you intend to make some changes to the layout, these paths can be adjusted remotely and updated on the robot.

For the training:

  • Training staff. We take sufficient time to train your restaurant staff on activation and engagement with the robots until they feel comfortable working around them. This step may take place as fast as one day, and the team can begin working alongside their robot counterparts by that time.
  • Safety precautions. The staff will be informed of an emergency stop button on the back of the robot that stops it immediately upon an unexpected situation.

You can operate with confidence as we offer a complete step-by-step setup and training process after subscription. Upon finishing the initial process, you will start enjoying the services of our best-of-class robot waiters immediately.

Future of dining with robot waiters

Robot waiters are gradually changing the landscape of the restaurant industry by introducing automation and streamlining simple, monotonous tasks. These assistants play an important part in the industry, and more restaurants are willing to adopt the technology to gain a competitive edge. While human waiters remain central to customer service, they are expected to handle more complex responsibilities, leaving repetitive tasks to the robots, which are continuously advancing in design and functionality.

With that in mind, the TUFF Robotics team has developed products to bring automation into the restaurant industry, resolve labor issues, and enhance visitor satisfaction. Looking ahead, we envision our robot waiters taking on more demanding tasks, allowing human staff to focus on customer interaction and fostering business growth.


When were robot waiters invented?

The first robot waiter is believed to be invented in the 1980s. Robots have long been employed at restaurants and eateries, with the earliest robot staff working in 1983 at the Two Panda Deli in California. However, they didn’t become popular until recently when the pandemic hit all of us. In contrast, robot waiters are very popular in Asian countries, particularly China and South Korea, where you can easily see them in fast-food chains and local restaurants alike.