Bear Robotics, an American robotic waitstaff manufacturing firm, has reportedly raised US$81 million in a Series B funding round led by IMM, as well as current investors such as Cleveland Avenue.
Bear has had some recent success in terms of deployment, including a bid to implement its robots into more Japanese restaurants. SoftBank, the company's investor, is behind the initiative, as are persistent labor shortages in the nation.
Robots have long been viewed in Japan as a method to keep moving the business for its aging population. However, the pandemic has further accelerated those needs.
In the US, Bear has worked with Chili's, Denny's, Compass Group, Pepsi, and Marriott. The business strategy has clearly gained the trust of SoftBank, which has recently become quite optimistic on robotics, heading its 2020 Series A funding round. Bear's total funding to date is roughly $117 million, owing to this newest round.
Bear is naturally hesitant when it comes to full automation. The firm has long promoted itself as a method for restaurants to supplement, not replace, human waitstaff. That is more than likely due to the machines' resemblance to mobile tables, instead of robot waiters, transferring orders from one point to another.
John Ha, Bear Robotics founder/CEO, stated that having opened a restaurant years ago, it really strikes how difficult things can get.
Ha further expressed that he reasoned that there ought to be a way to automate a few of these mundane duties without sacrificing what makes a restaurant great. Servi, a server robot, was born out of this need. It is a system designed to improve the customer, operator, as well as employee experience.
While others are attempting to entirely automate labor, Bear is attempting to elevate the future of work for the industry's stakeholders who keep it running every day.
To date, Bear claims that its Servi robot has served 28 million meals over a distance of 335,000 kilometers in total.