If you book a hotel in California, the attendant delivering snacks to your room at 1 a.m. may not be human. Instead, you might meet one of the "autonomous robot helpers" that can currently be found zooming down the halls of six hotels in the state.
The 3-foot robots named Relay, come from Savioke, a start-up based in Santa Clara, California. When a guest calls down to the front desk for an item, Relay uses Wi-Fi and 3D cameras to navigate its way around the hotel and make the delivery. Guests receive a call to their room once the robot has arrived, and after opening their door, all they have to do reach inside its top compartment to retrieve their item (which is often toothpaste, the L.A. Times reports).
Though nothing can replace the warmth of human-to-human interaction, Relay has been designed to be endearing. The machine greets guests with a language of R2-D2-esque beeps and an arc has been added beneath its interface that resembles a smile. And unlike a human hotel attendant, Relay doesn’t expect guests to tip.
There are currently 12 Relay robots being used by six California hotels under the brands Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Wyndham Worldwide, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Marriott International. All together the fleet has made more than 13,000 deliveries and covered up to 70 marathons-worth of ground. Savioke has already raised up to $15 million in funding and now the company plans to station robots in hotels across the country. You can watch the robot in action in the video below.
[h/t LA Times]