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First service robot in the Swiss catering industry

BellaBot in the Lucerne Museum of Transport

BellaBot - First service robot in Swiss gastronomy

Serve, clear away, support - the service robot BellaBot the Lucerne Precom Group AG has a double premiere in Central Switzerland this week. The Restaurant Andulino in the Mall of Switzerland and gastronomy in Swiss Museum of Transport are the first companies to use the robot from the Precom Group subsidiary Sebotics.

Sebotics technicians installing the BellaBot service robot in the Andulino restaurant
Sebotics technicians installing the BellaBot service robot in the Andulino restaurant, Ebikon.

"If the work with the robot continues to work so well, we might even get a second one," reveals Jeyakumar Thambiaiah with a broad grin.

He is the owner of the Andulino restaurant in Lucerne and is enthusiastic about his new addition. Under no circumstances should the robot replace one of its employees. Just provide support. The number of guests and thus the number of service personnel required is difficult to estimate, especially given its location. In such bottlenecks, the robot is a great help.

BellaBot at the Andulino restaurant
BellaBot at the Andulino restaurant
BellaBot delivers pizza at Andulino restaurant
BellaBot delivers pizza at Andulino restaurant
Jeyakumar Thambiaiah with your service robot "Mia"
Jeyakumar Thiambiaiah with "Mia"

Above all, the use of the robot makes the journey easier for its staff. The route to the associated gelateria at the other end of the entrance hall has been operated exclusively by the robot since last week.

The feedback from guests is mostly very positive. Many are happy to leave BellaBot serve. Few insist on exclusively human contact. "We are very flexible and ask the guest upon arrival whether they would like to be served by the robot," explains the manager.

Unique guest experience

Installation of the gastronomy robot BellaBots in the brasserie in the Swiss Museum of Transport
Installation of the gastronomy robot BellaBots in the brasserie in the Swiss Museum of Transport

A second serves in the gastronomy of the Swiss Museum of Transport BellaBot of the company Sebotics the guests of the brasserie. The employees affectionately call him "Werni".

However, Hans Bühlmann, segment manager of the public catering trade of the ZFV-Unternehmung cooperative, is clearly against the robot as a replacement for his skilled workers. “The human factor can deal with that BellaBot not be replaced. This aspect in particular is very important to us as restaurateurs,” he explains. He adds that the robot is still a great support for the service staff. The interest in BellaBot is huge and he inspires young and old with his cute facial expressions and his friendly statements.

BellaBot. A support for (almost) everyone.

The BellaBot According to the managing director and owner of the Precom Group AG, Thomas Holenstein, it can be used in a variety of ways and is nevertheless not suitable for every company. "Before making a purchase, the buyer must be 100 percent convinced of the concept," he clarifies. This includes not only the will to work together among the employees, but also the circumstances in the company. High thresholds or narrow seating can pose an obstacle for the robot. "That's why we're offering a four-week test phase for interested buyers," says Holenstein.

Another advantage is the easy operation of the robot. No special prior knowledge or skills are required to operate the robot. For technically interested buyers, however, there is the possibility of receiving more in-depth training from Sebotics.

Once installed, the robot uses laser technology to orient itself. It also captures objects that are placed in its way after configuration. Thomas Holenstein also admits: "Precisely because the robot attracts so much attention from the guests, all safety measures must be in place." Because of this, the robot has an emergency stop system. This occurs immediately as soon as an unknown movement is registered.

3D obstacle detection thanks to Laser SLAM technology
Unique stability through independent linkage suspension
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help or obstacle?

Doesn't the robot get in the way of the service staff more than it offers support? «The service staff took the task very seriously and already got the hang of it after a week. It is important that the employees want to work with the robot. Then the robot will never stand alone in a corner and will be a great support.” emphasizes the manager of the Andulino restaurant in the Mall of Switzerland.

Even Thomas Holenstein, who sells the robots with his company Sebotics, prefers to be served by a human in a restaurant. Isn't that contradictory? No, says Holenstein. «That is the great advantage of our robot. He is supposed to help out where the staff has too little time. In this way, the employees can devote themselves to serving guests again in peace. The robot will not and should not be a replacement for the service staff.»

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