By JANE TYSKA | email@example.com | Bay Area News Group PUBLISHED: October 9, 2022 at 3:04 p.m. | UPDATED: October 10, 2022 at 7:08 a.m.
“Stoney” and “Robbie” have become popular with seniors
Resident Nancy Evans, left, puts a dirty plate in the bucket of a robot named “Stoney” at Stoneridge Creek Pleasanton retirement community in Pleasanton, Calif., late last month. To the right are her friends Audrey Lord-Hausman, Roseanne Lippert and Sharon Ough. “Stoney” and “Robbie” have been in use in the community dining room since October 2021. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Stoneridge was one of the first to launch the Servi food service robot program in a senior living community last year, and others nationwide have reached out to them since about adopting the idea. The Tesla-inspired technology from Bear Robotics, Inc. in Redwood City was initially brought into the community to assist staff with clearing tables and serving up meals for at least 800 residents.
Born of the pandemic, social distancing and staffing shortages, the robots now just bus tables since the staffing levels have returned to normal. This eliminates the need for staff members to run back and forth to the kitchen to remove dirty dishes and they can focus on being more social with the residents.
Director of Food and Beverage Zachary Zeigler says it was important when they launched the program that seniors still felt that human connection with the staff.
“Our team has more time now to interact with our residents, which is the best part of their jobs,” Zeigler said.
At first, the leased robots were quite the novelty, and some elders would put their canes out in front of them or walk nearby to see how they would react. But they’re adept at deftly dodging most obstacles, including crafty humans trying to trip them up using walkers and canes.
“They add some entertainment value,” resident Sandy Block said. “We just all keep our fingers crossed that it doesn’t get out of hand and run into somebody,” Block said with a smile.
Residents Gene and Sandy Block, and Carole and Paul Kefer, from left, have lunch at Stoneridge Creek Pleasanton retirement community in Pleasanton, Calif., late last month. A pair of robots named “Robbie” and “Stoney” have been in use in the community dining room and kitchen since October 2021. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Server Alli Wynn unloads dirty dishes from a robot named “Robbie” at Stoneridge Creek Pleasanton retirement community in Pleasanton, Calif., late last month. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
“They don’t talk back and they don’t call in sick,” Lord-Hausman joked.
Did they ever imagine that they’d see robots in their lifetime? In the technology-driven Bay Area, it was really no surprise to most.
“They’re very efficient,” resident Nancy Evans said. “Plus, they’re so darn cute.”
To view the article in full, visit the East Bay Times website by following this link: https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2022/10/09/stoneridge-creek-pleasanton-retirement-communitys-newest-servers-are-robots/