Will 2021 be remembered as the year of the cat-themed food robot? Maybe.
This year, a number of restaurants in the U.S. and Canada added “cat-like” delivery robots to their staffs. The units, called BellaBots, are designed by Shenzhen, China-based company Pudu Robotics.
The bots have appeared at restaurants in Colorado (check out some footage of Bella in action) and Michigan, as well as locations in Spain, Japan, and Mexico.
Back in January, one of the first places to add a BellaBot was a restaurant in Canada called Sushi Island. According to a press release at the time, “She was introduced as a way to help servers, and make customers feel safer with less human contact.” The general reaction from customers seemed positive.
Here’s a video overview, so you can get a look at her. The video here may or may not have been created by an AI robot, itself, but it’s only a little strange:
As you can see, Bella consists of a tray-based system made to autonomously deliver food to tables. It’s equipped with pointy ears like a cat, and a touch screen with giant eyes and cat-themed animations. When the robot arrives at a table, entrées in tow, a light strip on its side notifies customers that their food is ready to be picked up.
There’s also a “cruise mode” for when you want it to just wander around.
Or, if you’re into that sort of thing, there’s even a “birthday mode” — singing included — for when it’s time to humiliate your customers.