The service robotics industry has been growing exponentially for the past 10 years and many are out in the field performing a wide and diverse range of useful tasks. Consider Savioke, Reis & Irvy, and ECOVACS. These three companies are providing unique, new uses for service robots and are indicative of the growth of service robotics in new business markets.
Mobile delivery robots for the hospitality industry
Savioke was a spin-off from Willow Garage, the group that developed the PR2 robot and the Robot Operating System (ROS). Savioke’s CEO, Steve Cousins, was the CEO of Willow Garage. Savioke, and their brand of Relay mobile robots, have incorporated the Willow Garage experience of style, ease of use, mobility and safety plus the unique difficulties of making deliveries in high-rise buildings including hotels, condos and offices. They’ve mastered autonomous elevator automation, lockable payloads, point to point navigation, collision avoidance, and 24/7 service and support.
Relay robots are working as delivery devices in hotels in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, New York and Singapore and have completed over 150,000 autonomous deliveries (according to the Savioke website). Hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton and Westin have all begun pilot programs.
ECOVACS Robotics (CN)
Legal assistance robots
ECOVACS is a Chinese consumer products manufacturer that, up until recently, was known for their floor cleaning robots. Each “Single’s Day,” a unique Chinese commercial holiday similar to Mother’s and Father’s Days – but for unmarried people – Alibaba sells more goods – including ECOVACS robot vacuum cleaners and window-washing robots – than any other day in the year. In fact, published figures show that, in 2016, 278,000 robots (floor cleaners and window washers) sold on Single’s Day for a value of 411 million yuan ($62 million); up 33% from 2015 (according to figures provided by PC Home).
ECOVACS new Benebot legal assistance robots are now being used in 7 districts and 34 cities in Jiangsu Province in pilot prosecutor’s offices. The mobile robots help prosecutors gather data used for case handling, particularly traffic cases where the accuracy rate has gone up to 88.7% while reducing case processing time from 3 days to 1-1/2 since the robots began being used in late 2016.
Essentially the robots review documents and identify problems with cases. They also advise on sentencing and can generate arrest warrants. Over 20,000 cases have been processed by the system: two-thirds of the cases have been reviewed and in roughly one-third, questions have been raised for human intervention. 541 cases of inaccurate sentencing have been corrected; 350 doubtful unfinished cases have been reinvestigated and 16 were advised for sentence correction (according to data reported in The Telegraph).
These new ECOVACS Benebots are also being tested in the more competitive arena of guides and greeters in public spaces, offices and shopping malls.
Reis & Irvy (US)
Yogurt dispensing robot kiosks
Capitalizing on the double fascination of robots and colorfully-topped swirled yogurt, Generation Next’s Reis & Irvy unit has developed a dispensing robot in a self-contained kiosk/cell.
Using a small integrated robot arm, the kiosks take orders, collect cash, credit card or Apple and Google payments, and process up to 60 cups of frozen yogurt per hour and offer 7 flavors, a twist option, and any two of six topping options.
They are placed at military installations, college campuses and a number of other locations through a network of franchisers and only take up 15 square feet per unit.
Generation NEXT, the franchisor, is using D&K Engineering, a San Diego, CA integrator, to manufacture these unique froyo kiosks.