A three-storey, self-styled “department store of fun” has taken an unusual step towards tackling its staffing shortage — by hiring robots to make up for the lack of humans.
Gravity Southside, which opened in Wandsworth earlier this year, has hired three robot waiters, called BellaBot, FinnBot and OllieBot, to serve guests their refreshments.
Bella, Finn and Ollie can each deliver up to five trays of food and drink, navigate Gravity using sensors to avoid obstacles, and are programmed with floor maps and routes for the restaurant and bar spaces, as well as table numbers. Their voice modules allow them to interact with customers, with BellaBot apparently having the “superior human-Robot interaction capabilities” — presumably meaning it is the chattiest of all three.
While there’s no word on tips, the trio will be paid £10.95 an hour, which is the London Living Wage. This money will be donated to Together for Short Lives, a charity that helps support seriously ill children.
While relatively unusual in London — though M Restaurants did offer Champagne-serving robots last Christmas — the android waiters come from Chinese firm Pudu, who reportedly have sold tens of thousands of robots across more than 60 countries. Not all of Pudu’s creations work in restaurants; in fact, others have be deployed in hospitals, schools, underground railway systems and even in government buildings.
The solution comes amid a nationwide job crisis, with, for the first time ever, more than a million vacancies across the UK.
Michael Harrison, founder of Gravity Southside said: “Gravity Wandsworth is still hiring human staff to work alongside our new recruits — and we’re eager to hear from candidates across the whole of the hospitality sector.”
Gravity, which over its 100,000 square foot has a casual sit down street food spot, a noodle bar and a cocktail bar, but is best known for its games and activities, which include a mammoth E-karting track, bowling, street golf and digital darts.
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