Restaurant & Takeaway Expo logo

26 & 27 NOV 2019


“Penny” the Robotic Waitress Is at Your Service!

A startup based in Silicon Valley is creating robots that can wait on tables at restaurants! Named “Penny”, the robot will hopefully decrease the workload for human servers, reduce waiting times for customers and lower the costs for business owners. 

These robots are a part of a project being developed by Bear Robotics, who are trying to create new restaurant automatisation solutions. 

Penny can manoeuvre between customers and staff, will stop when confronted by hazards and can even carry hot soup! 

Bear Robotics was created by John Ha, who is a former Google engineer. Whilst working for Google, John used to visit the Kang Nam Tofu House - a Korean restaurant in a strip mall in Milpitas, California - on a regular basis. 

John decided to become a restauranter when then owners of his beloved Korean restaurant decided to sell up. 

After filling in for servers and dishwashers when they were sick or left, he soon discovered that technology could aid the management of his restaurant. 

“I thought robots could have a positive impact within hospitality, as no one is really that happy about having a restaurant job,” said John. 

“Once I decided to quit my job at Google, I began building the Penny prototype, and it’s now up and running in my own restaurant.”

The robot can map its surrounding environment and uses sensors to navigate the areas in between the tables and kitchen. Penny will automatically stop moving if it senses anything obstructing its path within a foot range. Penny can also be summoned in seconds by a simple touch of a button.  

Penny is designed to work alongside with its human employees which will help improve their work experience. 

John has even said that Penny is helping waiters gain more tips, because they don’t have to spend time running back and forth collecting plates. They can focus on delivering the highest quality customer service. 

Penny is having a trial run in other Bay area restaurants, allowing the startup to see how the robot behaves in different environments and handles different dishes. 

“I hope Penny and our other solutions improve the working environment for restaurants and their employees,” John said. 

“I want to change the way restaurants are operated, and with Penny we are certainly driving this change.”