A food runner robot is helping a Chicago continuing care retirement community “transform the experience of aging” and saving staff member time and energy in the process.

Admiral at the Lake, a Kendal affiliate, conducted a three-week test in May with a Servi robot after seeing a demonstration of the technology by California-based Bear Robotics during a monthly meeting of Kendal culinary directors. Dan Burns, director of culinary services at The Admiral, said he knew the robot could help cut down on his staff’s “100-yard dash” between the kitchen and dining areas.

Servi robot
[Image courtesy of Kendal Corp.]

Servi is a three-tiered food runner that makes trips to and from the kitchen to deliver food and bus tables, allowing employees to remain in the dining area with residents. The robot can hold up to 66 pounds and has an eight- to 12-hour battery life. It travels approximately one mile per dinner service and is capable of making 20 deliveries per night. 

“We have had an overwhelming positive response from the residents,” Burns said. “The residents have noticed a difference in the service they are receiving, with more attentive and efficient staff and our friendly robot.”

The community permanently adopted the robot after the trial, using it in its two dining venues — The Admiral’s Bistro and the Waterfront fine dining room. Residents are in the process of naming the robot, and some even have written poems and limericks about their new “friend.”

“Overall, this was a relatively small investment, and the returns — in terms of operational efficiency and resident satisfaction — have been tremendous,” The Admiral’s CEO, Nadia Geigler, told McKnight’s Senior Living

The robot is low maintenance, according to The Admiral staff. The time it saves staff members from running to and from the kitchen has helped provide a higher quality of service to residents. Geigler said the robot even has become somewhat of a selling point at The Admiral, illustrating the community’s “innovative and lively spirit.”

“At Kendal, we constantly seek innovative solutions to further transform the experience of aging while maintaining a person-centered approach,” said Ben Butler, Kendal’s vice president for culinary services and procurement.

Butler told McKnight’s Senior Living that Kendal has no immediate plans to expand permanent use of the robot to other communities, although some have expressed an interest in testing it later this year. Bringing Servi to The Admiral made sense, he said, because of the community’s innovation and technologically-savvy residents.