Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hotel delivery robot debuts in Silicon Valley

Posted on 08/12/14 by Frank Tobe

Savioke, a start-up headed by ex-Willow Garage CEO Steve Cousins, has provided Aloft Hotels with a robotic butler. Aloft Cupertino is the first to use the new SaviOne delivery robot.

Aloft Hotels are a boutique brand of Starwood Hotels that focus on techie features such as Apple TV in-room services and the needs of the ‘always on’ generation of traveler. The first SaviOne robot, named A.L.O. Botlr by the Aloft Hotels team, and dressed in a vinyl collared uniform with a name tag, started today, and several more SaviOnes will be added in coming months.

The A.L.O. “Botlr” robot prioritizes multiple guest deliveries, communicates with guests and various hotel platforms, as well as efficiently navigating throughout the property – including the elevator – with speeds up to 4 mph. It will be used to deliver amenities, chargers, cords, snacks and the morning paper. Just before the robot reaches its destination, the system calls the room to alert the guest to open the door and get their delivery.

Steve Cousins, CEO of Savioke, said: “In our early testing, all of us at Savioke have seen the look of delight on those guests who receive a room delivery from a robot. We’ve also seen the front desk get busy at times, and expect Botlr [our SaviOne robot] will be especially helpful at those times, freeing up human talent to interact with guests on a personal level.”

The NY Times questioned whether this new robot was a gimmick or a sign of things to come.

“I see this as an enhancement to our customer service,” said Brian McGuinness, Starwood Hotels’ senior vice president for its Specialty Select brands, which include the 100 Aloft hotels expected to be opened in 14 countries by next year. “It’s not going to be a replacement for our human talent.”

The Times article went on to say that Savioke was interested in a range of service industry applications like assisted living facilities and hotels.

Savioke is both the designer and builder of the ROS-based SaviOne robot. Although not one of the Willow Garage spin-off companies, many ex-Willow Garage employes now work at Savioke.

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About the author: Frank Tobe

Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report. After selling his business and retiring from 25+ years as computer direct marketing and materials and consulting to the Democratic National Committee and major presidential, senatorial, congressional, mayoral campaigns and initiatives all across the U.S., Canada and internationally, he has energetically pursued a new career in researching and investing in robotics.

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