CHICAGO — If you’ve ever watched the Jetsons, you remember Rosie the Robot Maid. She cooked. She cleaned. And she existed in a time far, far in the future, where cars flew and children used jet-packs to get to school.
Walking through the aisles of the National Restaurant Show, it appears the future is here. There is Adam, your friendly robot barista, and the peppy-voiced Blue Robot, who wanders the show floor to offer you PepsiCo products.
The growth of robotics since the last NRA show is happening against the backdrop of a tight labor market — and also partially because of it. Takuro Iwamoto, a sales representative for Autec, said demand for its sushi-making robot has boomed since 2020, resulting in a six-month waitlist for the product today.
“After the pandemic, there’s a new world right now,” Ajay Sunkara, president and CEO of Nala Robotics, said. “Let’s talk about hygiene. Let’s talk about the labor shortage. Let’s talk about staff not showing up at all because of health issues right now. The best part of [robots] is consistency. You don’t have to do training. It always does the same thing.”
Nala Robotics was one of several robots on the show floor. Check out some of the others that drew crowds.