Well, it’s happening. Robots are taking over. But based on the experiences of some restaurant servers, it seems like that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Since Servi robots were implemented in Florida-based Sergio’s Restaurant chains in July, customers have been giving bigger tips, Insider reports. The robots use 3D cameras and laser-sensing technology to get around, and their main duty is to carry food from the kitchen to the dining room then bringing dirty plates back to the dishwashers, essentially acting as servers’ personal assistants. This, according to the CEO of Sergio’s, gives employees more time to interact with customers giving them an overall better experience which then leads to higher tips.
The robots were first hired—er, purchased—to combat the continuing restaurant staff shortage. And at $1,000 a month, that’s not a bad hire, especially for someone (oh no, I’m already thinking of them as people) who’s not dipping into the tip pool. Insider also reported last month that one restaurant owner in Texas is paying just $15 a day for robots that welcome guests, run food, and sing.
While the CEO of Sergio’s swears that these robots make things run 25-30% more efficiently, which ultimately helps the human waitstaff, I can’t help but be a little skeptical. What happens when these machines malfunction or, scarier yet, gain consciousness? Before we know it, restaurant owners will be bringing on barista and beer bots for pennies a day in favor of living breathing employees with bills to pay.
As the great restaurant staffing shortage continues, we’re likely to see even more solutions like this, and if some of them lead to more money in the pockets of the fine members of the restaurant and bar industry, I’m all for it. But instead of turning to artificial intelligence, maybe just maybe restaurant owners can simply offer more pay and benefits to their employees. At the very least, it just might prevent an apocalyptic robot uprising.