HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The University of Houston is expanding its robot population on campus with the addition of new robot servers at the UH Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership restaurant.
In an effort to stand out from others schools, college dean, Dennis Reynolds, introduced "Servi", the new service robot, to Eric's Restaurant in the Hilton hotel to introduce a factor that he says could alter the industry and give an opportunity for students to observe.
According to the Hilton College, UH is not just the only college in the country to use Servi, but it's also the only restaurant in Houston to employ a robot server, with the goal of research and development in the food service industry.
The robot was introduced to the school in October. Staff members then spent a few weeks programming Servi, involving mapping out the restaurant and taking test runs.
In coming months, Reynolds and one graduate student, Melica Jahed, will study the customer service this new robot provides.
"We want to evaluate what that difference is," Jahed said. "We want to slice and dice the data to find out which age groups like the robot service better, what income groups prefer it, as well as other ways to measure those perceptions."
Reynolds said the introduction of the robot is about innovation, not labor cuts. UH reports the restaurants' employees are happy with the addition.
"The robot helps my workflow," a server at Eric's for nearly a year Joel Tatum said. "It lets me spend more time with my customers instead of just chasing and running food."
This is not the first time the school has brought artificial intelligence to the campus. In 2019, UH rolled out Starship delivery robots, which was a major hit with students.
Reynolds said he is not stopping at research, but he is looking to utilize Servi throughout the hotel, such as room service and banquet services.