The next time you call room service for extra towels, your order may be delivered by a robot. It might not be able to change your sheets, but Savioke's Relay hospitality robot can bring everything from toothpaste to Starbucks, and it uses Wi-Fi and 3D cameras to navigate. The robot is already being used by some hotels in the US, and with recent funding of $15 million, autonomous butlers could soon become a lot more popular. The next time you call room service for a new tube of toothpaste, your order may be delivered by a robot. It might not be able to change your sheets, but Savioke's Relay hospitality robot can bring everything from clean towels to Starbucks, and it uses Wi-Fi and 3D cameras to navigate Each of the Relay robots stands roughly three feet tall.
Savioke's Relay bots have already taken on customer-service duties as Dash at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (Image courtesy Savioke). One of San Francisco's newest skyscrapers is wooing high-end residents with the kind of convenience and top-shelf technology that brought them there in the first place--robotic servants included. The luxury residence Jasper promises residents an unparalleled experience with those difference-making extra touches, such as scotch tastings, touch screens, and on-demand service by Savioke Relay robots. According to CNBC, the property also "seems to embody all that the city's long-standing residents hate, [aims] to offer everything its young tech and finance workers might crave, [and] looks and feels like a luxury hotel during a perpetual spring break." The new building's planned amenities offer big-city luxuries and culture for residents to enjoy within the comfort, and privacy, of an exclusive home base (Image courtesy Crescent Heights via Jasper brochure).
Recent events demonstrate the growing presence of indoor mobile robots: (1) Savioke's hotel butler robot won the 2017 IERA inventors award; (2) Knightscope's security robot mistook a reflecting pond for a solid floor and dove in face-first to the delight of Twitterdom and the media; and (3) the sale of robotic hospital delivery provider Aethon to a Singaporean conglomerate. Travis Deyle, CEO of Silicon Valley startup Cobalt Robotics which is developing indoor robots for security purposes, in an article in IEEE Spectrum, posited that commercial spaces are the next big marketplace for robotics and that there's a massive, untapped market in each of the commercial spaces shown in his chart below: "Commercial spaces could serve as a great stepping stone on the path toward general-purpose home robots by driving scale, volume, and capabilities. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE/RAS) jointly sponsor an annual IERA (Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation) Award which this year was presented to the Relay butler robot made by Savioke, a Silicon Valley startup. Listed below are a few of the companies in the emerging mobile robot indoor commercial marketplaces described in Deyle's chart above.
It has mood lighting, touch screens, and chirps as it wheels along hotel hallways, delivering Cheetos, Kraft Mac and Cheese, and hairspray to guests. There are only a handful of Relays deployed in several Silicon Valley hotels right now. But Intel Corp., which invested in the robot's maker, Savioke Inc., thinks the future will be full of such helpers. Underneath Relay's curvy exterior is artificial intelligence software that allows it to use cameras and other sensors to independently navigate through the hotel without running anyone over. Being aware of what's going around them is crucial if robots are going to transition from cages on factory floors to hotels, homes and other places where they could easily hurt humans.
IN A recent blog post, Gulliver expressed his exasperation at having to interact with other humans when he stayed at hotels. After all, in the age of mobile check-in and automated bartenders, it must be possible to swerve most of these pointless encounters (and avoid having to hand over tips for the most mundane services, such as pouring a beer or being shown to your room). One solution that didn't occur to him was robot butlers. The M Social Singapore hotel is introducing a droid that can deliver room service to guests. It navigates using 3D cameras and can negotiate lifts and manoeuvre around people wandering down the corridors.