For years, robotic technology has promised to make life easier for all of us. However, many technologies miss the mark from either a functional standpoint or lack the personalization that only a human being can provide. Also, these technologies were not cost effective given their purpose. Thanks to AI and other advanced technologies, robotics has emerged as a powerful and engaging tool for streamlining operations and providing a heightened level of customer services. This is especially true in stadium concessions where robots are already flipping burgers, frying chicken tenders, and delivering your order to your seat. Coming soon, sports and recreation venues will benefit from robots that make pizzas, salads, and cocktails and clean up once the games are complete. Robots can also be used to disinfect seating areas.
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How It Works:
Robots use a variety of technologies, depending on the tasks they are being called on to perform. In the case of food delivery, robots use LiDAR sensors, which uses pulsed lasers to measure distances to objects in its environment. This allows it to weave around obstacles and stop when people are in front it. To get to its assigned destination and back, robots determine routes using an indoor positioning system to calculate the shortest distance. Some robots use satellite imagery to further detail the route. Over time, robots build a memory of the navigable area, including obstacles, improving the speed of delivery. In the case of food preparation, sensors are used to determine temperature changes and alert cooks to manually check and serve dishes.
Aside from a being a cool, flashy technology that will stand out in the minds of guests, concession robots can cut a tremendous amount of time for food and beverage operators. Delivery robots can carry multiple items at a time and bring them to guests in seating areas. This reduces lines at concession and means less servers will be needed during events. Robots can make the production of basic food items such as burgers, salads, and pizzas faster.
Obstacles To Entry:
Utilizing robots for tasks such as delivery and food preparation requires a high level of coordination among your staff. They aren’t easily plugged into your system. Robots must be monitored, and troubleshooting must take place occasionally. These are different skills than those of servers or cooks. While the technology will allow you some staff flexibility, it won’t happen immediately. A full understanding of the technology is required, and a plan must be developed and implemented for transitioning from a traditional staff to one that uses robots. How many fewer people will you need? It’s hard to know.
Also, unlike other technologies, there may be community push back to the use of robots. The perception is that jobs will be lost and that the trend will grow with time. This increases pressure to ensure that robots function well and that guests see the benefits as much as operators see it. Superior customer service will be needed to ensure that guests see this foray into innovation as a positive one.
Robotic Concessions In Action:
If you were lucky enough to land a ticket to the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium, you may have been introduced to a burger-flipping robot named Flippy. Flippy, which has become a primary part of concession service at the venerable baseball stadium, uses thermal sensors to determine the proper time to flip a burger and ensure that it’s cooked correctly. Flippy works alongside human employees adding to their ability to serve daily crowds that average over 49,000 fans per game by grilling over 150 burgers per hour. Future versions of Flippy will also be able to fry chicken tenders and tater tots. Perhaps the best feature of Flippy? It never calls for a day off or takes a break.