Humans work smarter than robots
The Future. Brands are leaning on robots to deal with the worker shortage, speed up tasks, enhance customer service, and appear innovative. Despite corporate enthusiasm for AI that doesn’t talk back or need bathroom breaks, customers still prefer to interact with good, old-fashioned people — who do the jobs better anyway. As much as society may fear a potential robot takeover, it’ll never be able to replace the human touch.
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No industry has gone through more trial and error with service-sector AI than the restaurant business, which employs robot waiters to seat guests, serve food, bus tables, and even sing “Happy Birthday.”
- BurgerFi discontinued its AI server, Patty, after one year because she wasn’t fast enough to turn over more tables. Plus, the cost of deploying Patty to the chain’s 120+ restaurants was too high for little ROI, reports The Wall Street Journal.
- Chili’s halted the rollout of Rita because she was too slow to keep up with service despite being designed to lighten the load on human staff.
- Las Vegas-based restaurant chain Rachel’s Kitchen faced customer resistance when it introduced Servi, who doesn’t open doors and can’t go outside because the sun interferes with her navigation system.
“Robots are prone to messing up basic tasks and often require supervision in fluid environments like shop floors and sidewalks,” says Matt Beane, an assistant professor in the technology management program at UCSB. Human staff must also learn to work around robot quirks, like Servi’s inability to bus dirty trays back to the sink.
Most brands agree on one thing, though: robots are great advertising. They get people talking… and, hopefully, buying.