SoftBank Robotics and Keenon Robotics Become Global Partners for Service Industry

Keenon and SoftBank say that they will meet growing food-service demand for productivity and efficiency amid COVID-19 disruptions.

Keenon Robotics

Keenon's T6 robots are designed for deliveries within restaurants.

SoftBank Robotics Group Corp. today announced a global partnership with Keenon Robotics Co., which focuses on indoor service robots. The global launch expands on Keenon's announcement last week of $200 million in Series D funding and collaboration with SoftBank Robotics.

The companies said they will work together to expand the use of robotics in the service industry. They said that service robots will provide efficiency and productivity gains that will allow businesses to allocate more time and resources for staffers to refocus on customer service.

“We are proud to partner with SoftBank Robotics, the leader in the robotics solutions industry,” stated Tony Li, CEO of Keenon Robotics. “As the cost of labor increases, technology becomes an affordable solution, creating an increased appetite for automation alongside human tasks. The Keenbot is one such example of a solution that is meant for convenience and performs well when completing repetitive operational tasks that require precision.”

Keenon Robotics a leader in service robots

Founded in 2010, Keenon Robotics said it uses artificial intelligence and 10 years of experience in mobile robotics to offer intelligent systems to resrestaurants, hotels, hospitals, government offices, elderly-care communities, banks, and airports.

Features of Keenon's robots include an intelligent scheduling system, obstacle avoidance, and a modular structure. The Shanghai-based company said a speed limit in smart zones makes the robot safe to use alongside people.

Keenon claims to be the world's leading commercial robot company, with more than 10,000 customers in over 30 countries and 27.1% share in the Asia-Pacific delivery robot market. 

SoftBank Robotics Group (SBRG) said it is targeting that market, beginning with Singapore. The global delivery robot market will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.7%, according to Astute Analytica.

SoftBank to start in Singapore

In line with Singapore's vision and initiatives to become a “Smart Nation,” SoftBank Robotics Group plans to launch a series of robots serving industries such as food and beverage, cleaning, hospitality, security, healthcare, and logistics. “Advances in robotics and technology will lead to job transformation over the next few years,” said the Tokyo-based company.

SBRG said it has deployed more than 5,000 of its own systems, including the Pepper and NAO humanoids, Whiz cleaning robots, and Servi food-service robot, in more than 70 countries.

As part of its global expansion, SBRG said it will work with various stakeholders in both the public and private sectors. It cited trends such as digitalisation and the use of AI as drivers of growth in the delivery robotics market.

“At SoftBank Robotics, it is all about leveraging the technologies of tomorrow to create better solutions,” said Kenichi Yoshida, chief business officer at SBRG. “The partnership with Keenon Robotics, the global leading AI company focusing on indoor intelligent service robots, will allow us to deliver cutting-edge solutions as an integrated system to increase capability and efficiency in the service industry, as well as achieve greater savings.”

Food and beverage a key market

The current disruption from pandemic-induced lockdowns is forcing businesses to transform tasks, jobs, and skills with technology, said SoftBank. Food and beverage (F&B) operators in Singapore are increasingly adopting robots, it added.

“The service industry, particularly the F&B sector, has been facing a constant challenge of manpower shortage for a very long time now,” said Andrew Tjioe, president and CEO of Tung Lok Group. “Whereas we have been using robotic technology in our kitchens to increase our productivity, this will be the first time that we will deploy robotic solutions in our front-of-house operations.”

“Most of our restaurants are full-service restaurants and at Tung Lok; we take service very seriously,” he noted. “We do not expect these robots to replace the human element in our service, but rather, we hope for these robots to further complement and enhance our service efficiency.”

SBRG said it will launch Keenon's Keenbot key markets, starting with Singapore and Japan and followed by Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S. The robot is equipped with multi-point delivery modes and can deliver four dishes at one time, said the companies.

“As a platform that serves the everyday needs of consumers, merchants and delivery partners, we are continually seeking new ways to enhance their overall user experience and experiment [with] innovative solutions to address real-life challenges,” said Yee Wee Tang, managing director of Grab Singapore. “We are thrilled to partner with Keenon Robotics to introduce its AI-enabled service robots to GrabKitchen at Hillview, our cloud kitchen that houses more than 20 F&B brands.”

“We look forward to improving the agility of our operations and reduce repetitive and manual processes with the help of the robots,” he said. “The robots will also enable us to better protect our Grabbers' well being with the reduction of physical contact touch points.”

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Keenon Robotics

Keenon's T6 robots are designed for deliveries within restaurants.

Robot Technologies