Five new robot hotel assistants

22 Nov 2017 by Business Traveller Asia Pacific

Ever since the opening of the Henn-Na Hotel, Japan’s first hotel run by robots, in 2015 in Nagasaki, the prospect of travellers encountering robots during their journeys has increasingly appeared to become a reality. Airports and airlines have begun introducing automatons to assist with check-in and lounge access, while hotels have started deploying them to take on basic guest services.

Indeed, this year alone a number of hotels have joined the list of properties offering various services using robotic assistants, ranging from butler and room service duties to acting as local guides. Here are a few that travellers looking for a robotic encounter can check out.

Pepper robot at Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas

Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas

Having launched earlier this month, the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas’s newest team member, the four-foot tall humanoid robot Pepper, is among the most recent instances of an automaton becoming part of a hotel’s guest services team.

The automaton is able to detect guests’ gender, age and even mood while also reading facial, body and vocal cues in order to communicate with guests, and the hotel is primarily placing Pepper at its 23rd floor Sky Lobby. The main function of the robot is to provide guests with directions and answers to property-specific questions, however it can also dance and pose for selfies.

Travellers that have passed through Taipei’s two airports on Eva Air flights will likely recognise the robot – the Taiwanese carrier began deploying two Pepper robots at the check-in desks at Taipei Songshan Airport and the reception area of its lounge at Taipei Taoyuan Airport late last year.

Hotel Jen Robot

Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore and Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore

Another instance of recent robotic hotel additions, two of Hotel Jen’s Singapore properties – the Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore and the Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore – introduced two new robots to its team earlier this month. Named Jeno and Jena, the two one-metre-tall Relay model robots from Savioke are designed to deliver amenities and room service to guests.

Visitors to the hotel can locate them at the hotels’ lobbies when they are not performing their tasks – the robots are able to use the lifts and use sensors in order to avoid colliding with obstacles.

Doris Hui, General Manager of Dorsett Shanghai (left) with V Jr (centre), the 1st robot to be part of the hotel's guest service team.

Dorsett Shanghai

Dorsett Shanghai’s newest team member may bear an uncanny resemblance to one of the robots from the 2008 animated film Wall-E, but considering its role is part of the hotel’s guest service team providing information for customers, having a friendly and somewhat recognisable appearance may not be a bad thing.

Developed by Tami Intelligence Technology (Beijing) Co. Ltd and launched at the Dorsett Shanghai in September, the hotel’s two robots, both called V Jr, are able to provide information on local attractions, details of the hotel and also register guests for events. Customers can interact with the robots using voice or touch-screen commands, while the robots themselves can also be set to break into song and dance during coffee breaks.

M Social Singapore

Launched back in February this year, M Social Singapore’s Aura is another Savioke-developed robot that similarly acts as a butler for guests, specifically with the delivery of water bottles, fresh towels, toiletries and room service.

Interaction with the robot is done via a tablet, which displays the robot’s functions, while objects for delivery are placed in a compartment accessed from the top. As with the Relay robots, Aura is able to use elevators independently, and can carry out deliveries and return to its docking station once completed.

And M Social Singapore is not the only hotel to have brought the robot on board – US hotels Aloft Cupertino, Residence Inn by Marriott Los Angeles and Crown Plaza San Jose have all adopted Aura.

Meanwhile at its restaurant, the hotel has also brought in a robotic arm that can prepare eggs for guests on demand, either scrambled, sunny-side up or as an omelette, as seen in the video below.

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