Orionstar's Lucki Restaurant Robot Will Sing "Happy Birthday" to Guests (so Human Servers Don't Have to)

Oh, and it will also serve 400 - 600 dishes a day.

We talk a lot about robots taking over the dangerous, repetitive or mundane tasks in a restaurant — but what about the cringey ones? Like singing “Happy Birthday” to numerous guests throughout a shift. If you’ve ever waited tables in a family restaurant then you’ve had to corral your fellow servers and bussers to deliver some bouncy version of the song, perhaps including the use of sparklers or train whistles.

Ugh. No thank you.

Well those off-key tunes might be a thing of the past thanks to Orionstar’s Lucki server robot. Sure, it autonomously shuttles food to tables and dirty dishes back to the kitchen, but Lucki also sports a nice big LED screen that can be customized with different messages like “Happy Birthday!” and it’s also equipped with an “AI voice” to sing the dreaded celebratory song to special guests.

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Of course, singing songs is not Lucki’s primary function. It’s meant to carry trays of meals to tables. The self-driving robot uses a combination of lidar, HD cameras and a microphone array to navigate around obstacles and people. Lucki has four trays that can carry a total 40 kg (88 lbs) and has the ability to carry 400 - 600 dishes per day.

But there are a lot of companies that make similar server robots at scale already. Keenon Robotics, Pudu Technology and Bear Technologies all offer similar looking multi-tray autonomous robots.

Orionstar says it is different from others in the space in a few ways. First Lucki’s LED screen and voice that can be customized to advertise specials (or celebrate birthdays). There are also extras like cat ears that you can fit around the screen for a little added cuteness. In terms of the guts of the machine Orionstar also says Lucki’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor is faster than the competition’s chips, and that Lucki can run on 4G + WiFi, unlike others that run on 3G or just WiFi. Though, take these comparisons with a grain of salt as they come from Orionstar’s presentation deck.

According to Orionstar reps that I spoke with this week, Lucki bots are already running in thousands of restaurants in China including Pizza Hut and HaiDiLao. While robots aren’t anywhere near mainstream here in the U.S., we are starting to see more local restaurants adopting robo-servers amid ongoing labor issues.

There are a lot of really good reasons people aren’t rushing back to work at restaurants (pay, treatment from guests, pandemic fears). But if robots can take over some of the literal heavy lifting in the job, maybe more human servers will sing their robots’ praises.

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