What do you do when you have to keep your distance from restaurant patrons but still need to serve them? Well, here’s what the Royal Palace, a restaurant in the Netherlands, is doing. It’s using a pair of robots as waiters to perform all the basic functions of a human employee. The robots greet customers, serve food and collect dirty dishes.

We’re not quite there yet with restaurants in South Africa, but a Hotel Sky opened in Johannesburg in November 2020 that uses three robot assistants to wait on guests. So South Africans are already introducing this type of service to the country. Each robot has its own personality and is trained to serve you with all the standard concierge tasks such as handling your luggage, delivering room service and answering general questions about the hotel.

The drawbacks

It’s easy to feel creeped out by the idea. Royal Palace says that its patrons find the robot experience to be impersonal. Robots are less coordinated than humans and require a period of adjustment before they’re accepted as mainstream technology. They also come with a high price tag so we’re not sure if robot waitrons will catch on in South Africa.


Robots are built for better efficiency. Robot employers don’t have to worry about sick leave, holidays or human error. Robots will also provide a consistent branded experience and attract new customers because of their novelty value. Robotic waiters are also said to save on labour costs, which is a driving factor as minimum wage costs continue to rise. For instance, robotic waiters are more economical because they save on the annual salaries of human waiters in China.

Besides being a waiter, robots can also be used for cooking or food preparation. This will be an ideal solution because restaurants can keep patron-facing staff human and consider robots to help in other areas of the restaurant to drive efficiency.

The conclusion

Are robots capable of adding value to the restaurant industry? Some restaurateurs have praised their advantages, but others have reverted to human staff or been forced to close their restaurants due to an incompetent robot service. Regardless, robots may be a viable alternative to food-service operators once technology improves in the near future. Digital ordering kiosks are already being used in many restaurants. Will robot waiters be the next step in technology? Only time will tell.

Now you can immerse yourself more in the digital realm by learning about technology in the restaurant industry.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst