Whenever we order room service at a hotel, waiting for the delivery to arrive can easily turn itself into a lesson in embarrassment. Whether we're beginning to get cosy and are in the middle of changing clothes or are indisposed in some other way, traditional room service seems to have a knack for knocking on the door during the most inopportune times.
But thanks to advances in technology, the inconveniences and embarrassments of hotel room service may soon be a thing of the past for today's traveller.
The Future of Delivery
Originally created by a Californian-based robotics company, Savioke, Relay is a waist-high robot that was specifically engineered to serve hotel guests in need of more convenient room service. Following the trademarks of other delivery robots (AKA: drones), delivery innovations like Relay come equipped with mood lighting, touch screens, and even the ability to operate lifts on their own, which gives Relay the unique ability to hand-deliver anything from midnight snacks and full meals to hairspray and towels without disturbing your hotel-related activities. Best of all, you don't even have to tip them.
While only a handful of these robots have been deployed for use in hotels in the United States, Intel Corp, an investor of Savioke, is anticipating seeing more of these helpers in both the hotel industry and residential communities in the future, probably even sooner than we think. Ten Thousand, a residential development expected to open in January 2017, has already established plans to deploy robot servants like Relay in each dwelling. Every home in the community will come equipped with an iPad Mini that already includes the app needed to operate Relay, in which residents will be able to order anything from food to flowers. Once an order is entered, a human team will assemble the ordered goods inside of the robot's interior compartment for safe and private transportation.
With its exterior design, placement of cameras and other sensors, Relay is able to independently navigate through hallways and rooms safely without running into people or bumping into other objects.
In addition to Relay, Starship Technologies has also jumped on the digital delivery bandwagon to provide a more affordable way to shop for fresh vegetables and fruits at the supermarket. When you first look at it, you might not expect much from a small six-wheeled, 4mph delivery robot to handle your grocery shopping. But when put into action, these robots can carry and deliver the equivalent of three bags of shopping. Your delivery can even be tracked by using the smartphone app.
With the rising popularity of the delivery industry, its value is becoming more apparent in today's society as the simple act can help people in a variety of industries and organisations. However, the reality of having your late evening/early morning munchies delivered at 3am in the morning may not be as feasible with drones and hotel room service robots. Traditional takeaway delivery is still likely to be prominent in years to come with companies such as, Deliveroo, Hungry House and Grubhub even delivering alcohol.
Interestingly enough, Relay and Starship Technologies won't be the only futuristic amenities to be included in homes and hotels in the future. The Ten Thousand residential development, for example, will also come equipped with predictive technology, such as preparing and delivering morning cups of coffee for tenants before they set off for work for the day.
Artificial Intelligence in Real Time
Being aware of our surroundings is one of the greatest advantages we have as humans in order to perceive the world around us. And for a robot, seeing the world and making decisions in real-time are key if robotic tech is to transition from cages and labs to more public areas like hotels and homes, places where tech like this has the potential to cause harm to humankind.