We love pizza, and we love robots, so when the two come together it’s something to get really excited about. A branch of Pizza Hut in South Korea has introduced a robot waiter to serve your slice, in an effort to increase its use of food-related technology, lessen staff pressures, and of course to attract the geeky and inquisitive to come in and eat at the restaurant.
The robot is called the Dilly Plate, and it has been created by South Korean food technology company Woowa Brothers, better known for its GrubHub-style local food delivery app called Baedal Minjok, which translates to Delivery Nation in English. Pizza Hut hasn’t agreed to employ the robot full time yet, and it has two weeks to prove itself.
If you’re picturing C-3PO bringing your pizza though, you’re going to be disappointed. Dilly Plate is considerably less humanoid, and a lot more functional in its design. There are no arms or legs, only a motorized platform with a plate on the top that holds your pizza. Presumably, you will have to do the heavy pizza lifting when Dilly arrives at your table, due to its lack of limbs. Dilly will be able to stack pizzas for efficient delivery, as it can hold 22kg of food.
Woowa Brothers founder and CEO Kim Bong-jin teased the introduction of Dilly Plate — which he called an autonomous serving robot — in an interview recently, and sees it as an experiment to help compare how people and robots can work together in a service environment. In particular, how robots can be used for deliveries and collections in apartment complexes and other enclosed spaces.
Although Woowa Brothers is best known for its app, it has been investing in robotics since 2017 and has already shown off another food-service robot called Deli. Deli is designed to both deliver food and take back used plates from large eating centers such as mall food courts. The CEO went on to talk about how these robots could be adapted for use in the outside world, delivering goods and collecting recyclable waste on the return journey. The parallels between this and how the Dilly Plate will work in the controlled environment at Pizza Hut are clear.
Pizza Hut is no stranger to robots in the workplace either, and had SoftBank’s Pepper robot working in a branch in Singapore, where it took orders and made recommendations. The unnamed Pizza Hut store is located in southwest Seoul.