By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s known as “Astro” at Sergio’s Restaurant in Kendall.

The name stands for Automatic Service Tray Removal Organizer, but you can just call it robot.

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Astro is rolling in to help out.

After the order is placed, Astro waits for the food and brings it to the table, freeing up the server to do other things.

“I can go to other tables to take their order. I can have one, two, three, four tables. While he’s on the line with the food, I can prepare the toast, the coffee, the juice,” said server Claudia Lozano.

While Lozano is making coffee, Astro’s being loaded up with food for her table. Then, someone from the kitchen tells her on the radio the food is ready – that’s when the robot makes its way with the food to the table at the same time Claudia is heading there too. The plan is to get there at the same time.

“Honestly, that was the most fantastic thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” exclaimed customer Christopher Hernandez.

The idea to bring artificial intelligence into Sergio’s Restaurant came less than a month ago.

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“It really came out of the crisis that we have currently in the labor force where we can’t get employees to come in to work,” said Sergio’s CEO Carlos Gazitua.

He found that employees who did return were overworked and burned out. He said Astro takes over much of the heavy lifting, meaning servers no longer have to carry heavy food trays or lug dirty dishes to the kitchen.

“We thought what if we could take a function from them that is a lot of work, which are carrying plates, and they can focus more face time on the guests,” he said. “And what if they can take more tables and actually work less resulting in more money working less?”

Juan Higueros is a cofounder of Bear Robotics. He told CBS4 this technology allows servers to spend up to 30% more time with their customers or doing other things. And it’s rolling out in more than just restaurants.

“We started with marinas, we’ve started with some senior living homes. We’ve been in some casinos,” Higueros said.

And for those concerned this artificial intelligence could replace hard working humans, Gazitua said they’re here to help, not take over.

“I don’t think it could replace servers, because you need the human touch to create the experience. I don’t think anyone wants to have a robot just there running a restaurant,” he said.

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Sergio’s has six full-service restaurants in South Florida. The plan is to have two or three robots in each of those restaurants in the next two months.

Ted Scouten