Robot Waiter Serves Up Korean Barbecue In DFW

A human waiter dropping food off at your table may soon be a thing of the past.

For the past two weeks, Ari Korean Barbecue in Plano and Carrollton tested out robotic waiters.

The robots they used are PuduBots made by the Chinese company Pudu Robotics. They look less human and more like a futuristic bookcase with wheels and a small screen for its cutesy emoji face.

When a diner's order was ready at Ari, a staffer placed the food on one of PuduBot's many trays and punched in the diner's table number. Pudu navigated itself to the table, where diners removed their food, and the robot rolled back to the kitchen for the next order.

Robot waiters are a cool way to reduce human contact in the middle of the pandemic, but the restaurants' owner admits that there were a few downsides. PuduBot moved around tables pretty well, but it was confused when humans are walking around.

“It’s a great idea in theory, but our restaurant does a lot of volume and there is a lot of foot traffic. There are many obstacles getting in the way of the Pudu, and it has a difficult time navigating through our restaurant, which can cause the robot to malfunction," Ari owner Eugene Park told Eater Dallas.

Park also prides himself on Ari's customer service, which is something a robot can't provide.

Pudu's test run ended on April 28. Park seems on the fence about making the robot a full-time staffer.

“We’re happy to see our customers enjoying its presence in the restaurant ... But we’re not sure if Ari is the best fit for Pudu’s design and function," said Park.

Photo: Courtesy of Pudu Robotics