A hotel in California introduces first robot butler


Who doesn't want their own robot butler? Well, if you stay at Aloft Hotel in California, you'll have access to a Botlr, who will do everything from delivering your breakfast, bringing you the toothpaste you forgot to pack, and bringing you extra towels when you need them.

Starwood Hotels is introducing the robot butler on Aug. 20 at the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, Ca. The Botlr robot, named A.L.O., will be the first of its kind and will assist both hotel staff and visitors with everyday tasks.

A.L.O. will even be dressed in a butler uniform, complete with nametag. One of its jobs is assisting hotel staff by delivering items to hotel guests in their rooms. It has a compartment on the top of its "head," where items are stowed for delivery. When it arrives, the phone in the room will ring to alert guests of its presence (the Botlr can't knock because it doesn't have arms). It comes equipped with a touch screen that both guests and hotel staff use to communicate with it.

Perhaps the key feature of A.L.O. is that it doesn't ask for a tip. Instead, Aloft Hotel will ask guests to tweet about their experience with the Botlr using the hashtag #meetbotlr.

"A.L.O has the work ethic of 'Wall-E,' the humor of Rosey from 'The Jetsons' and reminds me of my favorite childhood robot, R2-D2," says Brian McGuinness, Global Brand leader for Starwood's Specialty Brands.

The Botlr robot is the product of Savioki, a company backed by Google Ventures. The company was originally interested in healthcare robots, but found that building a hotel-focused robot was easier because it only has a single purpose. The company can quickly produce and distribute Botlr to any of Starwood's properties.

A lot of thought went into the Botlr's appearance, too. Savioke needed a robot that didn't scare people, but made them feel comfortable in its presence. In the end, it was Google Ventures that gave the Botlr its smiling facade.

Obviously, the Aloft Hotel staff might be worried that A.L.O. has come to take their jobs, especially since new research points out that this may happen in other industries, too. However, Starwood is confident that A.L.O. will not replace any hotel jobs, but free up staff to tend to other matters, making their lives, as well as those of their guests, easier.

"They say that every journey begins with a single step. Next week marks a major milestone in our mission to create autonomous robots for the services industry," writes Savioke. "Except, in this case our robot's journey begins with a single robot wheel rotation."

If A.L.O. is successful at the Cupertino location, Starwood plans to add more Botlr robots to its other Aloft Hotels.

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