Forgot toothpaste during your hotel stay? Just call your robot butler and you’ll get it in a jiffy. No tip necessary, just tweet a thanks. The future of hotel stays is here. Bye bye, bell man. 

A.L.O digital hotel butler

On the Horizon:

It’s not a butler, its a BOTLR. Need extra towels during your hotel stay? Want an extra razor? Name your need – your digital butler is here to help! This isn’t a promise of the future.  It will arrive…this week! On August 20, Starwood Hotels will launch a test pilot program of a new line of robot butlers in its Aloft Hotel chain, specifically in its Cupertino, California location (ahem, the same city that Apple is headquartered in). It will test the use of robots backed by Google and made by Savioke, a company making autonomous robot helpers. The test will run this year with plans to expand to its 140+ locations if all goes well.

Measuring 3 feet tall and weighing less than 100 lbs, the A.L.O BOTLR is a cute little thing. Equipped with a tablet on top, it travels at human walking pace to deliver amenities straight to your door!

Here’s how it works: Call the front desk and request the item you need. The hotel staff gives the A.L.O. BOTLR the specific item. The little dude (or dudette) travels independently between floors via the hotel elevator.  When Aloft’s A.L.O. arrives at your room, it phones your room 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 (so don’t forget to put on that robe!). Once the door opens, the robot butler will unlock and open its lid and provide instructions through onscreen prompts for guests to remove the item and close the lid.

As far as a tip?  No more rummaging for bills, just a tweet will do.  Tweets and selfies with A.L.O. are more than welcome at #meetbotlr, according to the company.


What if…

Some obvious logistical questions here being brought up with this contraption, like who presses the elevator floor button for the little dude? How does it call you?  What happens if you’re not in your room or get the wrong item?  Is this really more efficient for hotels given the costs of the robot and any additional upgrades needed. Could your items (or the robot even) get stolen?

What’s cool about this is that this is the first of many applications of this delivery robot concept.  There are countless applications in the hospitality industry whether pool-side or in a hotel room. Imagine a robot delivering medications to patients in a hospital. What about getting items to nursing home residents? There are many applications for this “fetch” robot.

For the Early Adopters:

The pilot program begins on Wednesday at the Cupertino Aloft location. So this is something you can try out this week!  Robot maker Savioke will expand its pilot program to include additional hotels early next year.  So long, Jeeves.

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