By Lucy Wheeler
If Paul Revere were making his famous midnight ride in this modern era, he would raise his LED lantern from the window of his leased Navya automobile and shout, “The Bots are coming! The Bots are coming!”
One such bot and one of the first of the room service robots came to San Diego in April of 2017. It was named ‘Relay’ by its designer and manufacturer, Savioke of Silicon Valley and became the first room service Robot in the newly constructed Fairfield Suites & Inn Marriott located in San Marcos, (San Diego), California.
This introduction occurred at the ribbon cutting ceremony of the hotel in April 2017. The manager and staff of the Fairfield Suites and Inn nicknamed Relay Hubert, in honor of San Marcos as the hub of the Educational System of North County San Diego.
This room service robot was purposely designed by Savioke to be an elegant piece of lobby furniture, non-intimidating to people and to be of assistance with both the hotel staff and service to the customers of this modern day facility.
During the construction of The Fairfield Suites, the Wi-Fi required to operate Relay was installed to enable Relay to roam the hotel and to maneuver its way from the office to the room number or designated area assigned. It glides into the elevator, only if there is room, then maneuvers as directed down the appropriate floor to the place appointed on its LED screen. It is designed to go around people or things in the hallways and even the walls themselves. It will stop before bumping into an object.
Once Hubert reaches the designated room, it stops and automatically notifies the room telephone that ‘Your order has arrived.‘ The customer then removes the object, be it food, towels or replacement requests, closes its lid and Hubert prints out ‘Thank You’ on the screen. Do people tip the room service robot? The Owner of Savioke, Steve Cousins, saved a five dollar bill from a tip received and it is now mounted in his office.
In the year of working with Hubert, the manager of the Fairfield Suites & Inn, Dallas King, and the members of the staff are singing the praises of this room service robot. Though leased, as are self-driving cars, the cost of the lease per month is less than the payroll for three shifts per day, including vacation pay and such items as social security. The most significant cost of this robot is the initial installation of the Wi-Fi system throughout the hotel. The maintenance of the robot comes with the robot lease and troubleshooting and though rare, is available via Wi-Fi 24/7. It is
Children are the first to notice this elegant looking table gliding around by itself and are fascinated with its behavior. They would order one French fry at a time (if allowed) to watch this fantastic table entertain them. But to the hotel staff, Hubert is useful, dependable, accurate, a timesaver and a beneficial addition to their work loads.
As Hubert moves through the hallways and elevators, it has not yet been programmed to voice its commands. However, with the lease agreement, all data is collected as to its performance, referred to the company engineers enabling enhancements to be of greater assistance for the hotel’s staff and customers. When the time is right and if it is feasible, Hubert will someday have a voice as does Alexia, Serie, Echo or Google Mini. There are other service robots such as Tug, a transport robot used in Hospitals, airports or nursing homes and there are tests being done for isle cleaning robots for large companies such as Lowes, Home Depot, or Wal-Mart, where hroughout the day brings in dust or debree. Currently, the only service robot which can be purchased is the Roomba and its manufacturing contenders.
Indeed! The Bots are already here in our homes and own backyards. The demand for them is growing all over the USA, from New York City to Los Angles California and even one Bejing , China hotel ordered two “Relay” robots in late 2017. Mr. King gets frequent calls from other hotel managers asking his reaction and opinion of Hubert after one year of working with it. “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” is his reply ‘It’s a real attention getter and an enormous help to our staff.”