What is a China-made robot doing in Australia serving Korean cuisine? Enjoying international novelty status, among other useful pandemic-relief roles.

Robot waiters are nothing new nowadays, but people in the vicinity will also be curious about such things as, “How does the robot deliver food to the designated location? How does it avoid people coming and going? Is it reliable? And how can it ensure the food is not spilled or dropped?”

This was the setting at a well-known Korean BBQ restaurant on Elizabeth Street in the central business district of Melbourne, Australia. People were gawking at the new addition to the staff instead of at their food.

Say ‘hi’ to PuduBot, the delivery robot from Pudu Robotics. Due to its novel appeal, PuduBot has been well received by the locals. While waiting for the food to be served, many customers are taking photo opportunities while the robot hustles around the premises—all a piece of cake for the machine!

So how does Pudu work? As we know, its features include automatic driving, positioning and navigation; and obstacle avoidance. This is made possible by the multiple sensors running on a proprietary algorithm that integrates data from the vision camera, lidar, RGB depth sensor, inertial measurement unit, encoder, ultrasonic and other sensors—enabling centimeter-level map construction and positioning with high precision and robustness.

During its movement, the robot processes data from sensors through the perception algorithm, accurately identifies obstacles in the environment, and generates a high-precision, multi-layer ‘semantic map’. It also makes local path planning to finetune the trajectory in real time while maintaining the general direction of the global path, allowing for flexible obstacle avoidance.

Other products from the firm include advanced delivery and disinfection robots. During this pandemic, such robots have found widespread use in restaurants, hospitals, supermarkets, airports and office buildings of all sizes.