While this recent introduction of robots in hotels may feel like a ‘Whoa, The Future is Here’ moment, hotels have actually been toying with robots, seriously and not just as a cool gimmick, for about a decade.
Last month, Hilton Hotels, in partnership with IBM, introduced “Connie,” the first Watson-enabled robot concierge for the hospitality industry. Named for the founder of Hilton Hotels, Conrad Hilton, Connie can tell guests where to eat, what to do nearby, and what they need to know about the hotel’s amenities and services. Connie uses both a combination of Watson APIs and information gleaned from WayBlazer to deliver its picks. And the more guests interact with Connie, the more the robot will “learn” and thus adjust its recommendations. Currently, Connie is only available at the Hilton McLean in Virginia.
But Hilton isn’t the only one testing robots in their hotels. Aloft Hotels unveiled their Botler robot in August 2014. Created by Savioke, a company that specializes in building robots for hotels, Botlr can drop off toiletries or room service for guests. More impressively, Botlr is able to roam the hallways of the hotel all by itself. The Crowne Plaza hotel in San Jose, Calif., also rolled out their own ‘bot last fall–Dash, which looks very similar to Botlr, and is similarly self-sufficient. For example, using Wi-Fi, Dash can call up the hotel elevator on its own.
Yet while this recent introduction of robots in hotels may feel like a “Whoa, The Future is Here” moment, hotels have actually been toying with robots, seriously and not just as a cool gimmick, for about a decade. Back in 2006, the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel used Hitachi’s humanoid robots that looked a bit similar to Savioke’s current robot fleet. Five years ago, when the Yotel Times Square opened a buzzworthy feature was their Bell-bot–a large robotic arm that picked up guests’ suitcases and stored them in lockers before check-in and after check-out.
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