We may all succumb to the robot uprising someday. But until then, it’s comforting to know we can still get them to bring us our toothbrush.
The newest hire at Aloft Hotels is a robot butlerwhose first day was Wednesday at their Cupertino property. Hotel guests can now call the front desk and ask A.L.O., also known as Botlr, to fetch them sundry items including toiletries, a phone charger, and a snack.
You rang? (Photo: Greg Keraghosian)
All the human staff has to do is tell Botlr the room, and he’s programmed to do the rest, navigating hallways and elevators all by his lonesome. He was created by a Bay Area robotics company named Savioke, and when they pitched Aloft about giving the robot a trial run in Cupertino, which is surrounded by the Apple campus and gets a steady stream of tech guests, the hotel agreed to be the first to take equal-opportunity hiring to new levels.
They spent six months developing A.L.O., installing a mapping system that lets the robot navigate floor by floor on its own (Savioke declined to put a price tag on the robot). Ironically, this may sound cooler to folks who don’t stay in tech-savvy Cupertino.
“It’s funny. Half the people who look at the Botlr have that child-like wonder because it’s a robot like the Jetsons with Rosie or R2D2 or WALL-E,” said Brian McGuinness, senior vice president with Aloft. “The other half are sort of like, ‘Oh, it’s a robot,’ and walk by because we’re in Cupertino.”
Glowing in the dark is one of A.L.O.’s skills. (Photo: Greg Keraghosian)
I paid a visit to A.L.O. to watch him operate, and I saw him make several demo deliveries to a room upstairs. He was a little hesitant at times, struggling to get past a housekeeping cart in the hallway or making some random stops. But he did get the job done each time.
A.L.O. does have his limitations – he can only carry what fits in his compartment, and that doesn’t include trays of food or a whiskey on the rocks. But as a first-generation robot butler, he makes for a heck of a mascot who’s bound to make some guests smile, and I did enjoy watching him perform a robot jig after giving him a five-star review.
Now if only we can get an Optimus Prime butler into action, all will be right with the world.