Savvy Robot Butler In Homes & Retail Soon?
Aloft Hotels in California’s Silicon Valley is the first major hotel to introduce Botlr, a new robot butler who will deliver amenities to guest rooms, performing both front and back of house duties.
Given the name “A.L.O.”, presumably as a play on the hotel name “Aloft” and “hello”, he is being “professionally dressed” in a “custom shrink-wrapped, vinyl collared uniform and nametag”.
Happy to accept Tweets as tips via #meetbotlr, he whizzes from task to task on wheels, gliding across corridors and getting jobs done, freeing up human time, creating a more personalised experience and adding to Aloft Hotel’s savvy tech cred.
Created by Savioke (pronounced Savvy Oak), Boltr’s other name is the Savione (pronounced Savvy One), and a cute YouTube intro video shows A.L.O at work, delivering a towel to a guest, asking questions via the large touch screen and whistling R2-D2 style with happiness and greeting.
“As you can imagine, hiring for this particular position was a challenge as we were seeking a very specific set of automated skills, and one that could work – literally – around the clock”, said Brian McGuiness, the Global Brand Leader of Starwood Hotel’s Speciality Select Brands, of which Aloft Hotel is part.
“As soon as A.L.O. entered the room, we knew it was what we were looking for. A.L.O. has the work ethic of Wall-E, the humor of Rosie from The Jetsons and reminds me of my favorite childhood robot, R2-D2. We are excited to have it join our team.
“The appointment of Botlr makes Aloft the first major hotel chain to utilize robots both back and front of the house. People have been waiting decades for their robot butler to arrive and we’re happy that the time has finally come and that our guests can be the first in the world to take advantage of this amazing technology and service breakthrough”, added Mr McGuiness.
A.L.O.’s duties include “prioritising multiple guest deliveries, communicating effortlessly with guests and various hotel platforms, as well as efficiently navigate throughout the property – including the elevator – with ease.”
Aloft Hotels is also known for having “its industry-first smart check-in program, “Cool Concierge” program and piloting Apple TV in-room services.”
Steve Cousins, CEO of Savioke, said: “We are thrilled to introduce our robot to the world today through our relationship with Aloft Hotels.
“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 will be especially helpful at those times, freeing up human talent to interact with guests on a personal level.”
A.L.O.’s official start date is the 20th of August at Aloft Hotel Cupertino, and he’ll be joined by several new Botlrs in the coming months.
The Savioke blog states that “the robot is approximately 3 feet tall, weighs less than 100 lbs., has a carrying capacity of 2 cubic feet, and is designed to travel at a human walking pace.”
“It can even travel independently between floors via the hotel elevator. When Aloft’s A.L.O. arrives at the appropriate guest room, it phones the guest to announce its arrival, delivers the goods and makes its way back to the front desk.”
“A.L.O. will know when a guest opens the door via an onboard camera. Once the door opens, A.L.O. will unlock, open its lid and provide instructions through onscreen prompts for guests to remove the item and close the lid.”
Savioke expects A.L.O. “to delight guests, and also believe that some travellers will make a point of visiting the Cupertino Aloft for the sole purpose of getting a chance to meet A.L.O. in person.”
The Company says “We believe the staff has more important things to do than deliver a toothbrush or a package of chips to a room, and that they would prefer to spend their time creating a more personalised experience for guests.”
The blog post concludes by saying: “They say that every journey begins with a single step. Next week marks a major milestone in our mission to create autonomous robots for the services industry. Except, in this case our robot’s journey begins with a single robot wheel rotation.”
Now that the Savione Botlr is a reality, how long could it be before we’ll start seeing him arriving to hotels in different parts of the world?
Then, with the constant acceleration in technological change, how long will be before a more advanced version of the Botlr is ready to help you at home – or in a retail environment?
Obviously we’re still talking several years away, with any scary Terminator-like future even further off into the distance, but the rise of the robots has unstoppably begun!
I just hope Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” are one day programmed into all robots so the Terminator is an impossibility, with the only weapon a Terminator might bring being a spare toothbrush to help you destroy plaque – and not humans!