Meanwhile in Florida: Robot Becomes Gainfully-Employed Waiter, Reboots Debate on How Much to Tip a Poorly-Timed Bot

If you thought the crazy dude down the street ranting about robots taking our jobs was a lunatic, you owe him an apology. Because a South Miami restaurant just hired a slick new robot to wait tables who only charges $2 an hour and doesn’t even mind working weekends.

ASTRO (short for Automated Service Tray Removal Organizer) is three feet tall and speaks three languages (and is currently working on his Spanish). He was developed by Bear Robotics in Silicon Valley when a South Miami restaurant discovered they were struggling to restaff after the height of the pandemic. Averaging a shortage of eight servers a night, the restaurant owners figured why not get a robot to step in and lend a hand?

Using sophisticated sensors, ASTRO zips around the Cuban eatery carrying plates of food in his belly which diners grab themselves as ASTRO can’t be trusted to have hands. Though he is trusted to clear plates and run them to the kitchen, stopping to allow patrons the right of way often with a “thank you” or “excuse me.”

The novelty of a waiter bot is bowling over customers, who can’t help whipping out their phones to snap selfies with the shapely automaton. “They are astonished,” Customer Service Manager Lorena Tomatis says with a smile. Just wait until ASTRO’s programming updates to include singing “Happy Birthday”.

Surprisingly, ASTRO is a hit with the waitstaff, who are able to make fewer trips back and forth to the kitchen and consequently spend more time giving great customer service. As a result, staff says their tips have gone way up. ASTRO, for his part, refuses to share in the tip pool (for now).

As more and more jobs become automated across industries, it looks like worker robots are the wave of the future. But while everyone seems to be loving the new ASTRO bot, does he have what it takes to replace Florida Man? If so, we’re in big trouble.

Cover Photo: imaginima (Getty Images)

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