An R2D2-sized robot named Relay has been riding elevators and scooting down hotel hallways, delivering extra towels and soft drinks to guests. Created by Santa Clara, California-based Savioke, the 10-lb. machine was designed to free hospitality employees from mindless tasks so they could concentrate on customer service instead.
Relay is in test-mode at two Aloft Hotels; with a third signed up to try it out. The unit at Aloft Cupertino, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, is nicknamed The Butler. In its first six months of operation, The Butler made more than 1,500 collision-free trips around the property. When not in use, it obediently returns to a charging station to refresh its batteries.
Savioke hopes to roll Relay out to the general market soon. As a source of labor, the company points out that the robots represent a quick ROI. Unlike human workers, they don’t require health benefits or overtime pay, nor do they complain about performing repetitious tasks. They efficiently make a delivery that could take a paid staff member 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Hotels may find the technology to be especially beneficial during off-peak hours when the front desk agent would have to leave the desk in order to make a delivery.