As Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted in Japan, Skylark Group trials socially distant serving solutions with their new robot waiters. 

Japan’s Skylark Group targets to host over 60% of their restaurants with robot waiters by the end of 2022.

The country’s largest family restaurant operator is working to create automated solutions for pandemic-era problems, including labour shortages in Japan. As the government reduces dining restrictions, Skylark has released new robots that will help to streamline service and minimise human contact, reducing the risk of virus transmission.

Skylark’s robot waiters can serve tables of up to four people and retrieve dishes after customers have finished their meals. In a trial the F&B group launched in August in Tokyo, robot waiters were able to cut 50% of the steps employees took during peak hours.

The group is aiming to introduce their robot servers to around 1,000 locations by the end of April 2022, including some of their Gusto restaurants and all of their Syabuyo shabu-shabu Japanese-style hot-pot locations. Skylark hopes to triple this number by the end of next year, installing robot waiters in 3,000 of their restaurants around Japan.

US$380 million (JP¥43 billion) was raised in funding by Skylark in June this year to implement these robot servers, JP¥6 billion of which has been set aside for technology investment. Other technology adoptions by the company include the launch of cashless payments in May 2019 and touch-screen menus in February 2020. As the company continues to digitise, they are also responding to new demands brought on by the pandemic to offer safer customer experience, including their new robot workers.

Other recent tech moves by Skylark include the adoption of cashless payments in May 2019 and touch-screen menus in February 2020.

Japanese Italian eatery chain, Saizeriya, has been trialing robot waiters since early 2020, their third model starting testing in September. Upon the completion of their trials, they will also be launching robot servers at busy venues. Another Japanese F&B brand, Watami, has robots serving at 16 of their 26 Yakiniku no Watami barbecue restaurants across the country.

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