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A robotics firm, Savioke, has come up with a 3 foot tall robot hotel butler (aka Botir) The butler travels on rollers and can hold 2 cubic feet of items for guest deliveries.

There have been 7 of these robots deployed to hotels throughout the US in the last 15 months and during the next year hundreds will be distributed.

The robots are leased to the hotels. Therefore they are not responsible for repairs or monitoring. The cost to the hotels is less than one shift worked.

The success rate has been 99% of the time. If for some reason it doesn’t make it – say, kids are blocking it from where it is going, or the Internet is out – there is always communication, so it’s always monitored all of the time. Where human delivery would take 20 to 40 minutes, the robots typically do those in five minutes. This is a huge quality improvement for the guest.

Some problems arise when a guest shoves the robot to the side or moves it, and now the robot doesn’t know where it is. Guests will do strange things, especially under the influence of alcohol. Most of the time it can be fixed remotely. It is monitored 24/7 at a call center whose job is to look for those problems and respond.

Hotels and their guests love the robot. When a client is in the lobby, they want to be dealing with people, but once you are in the room there is a lot that you just want to do yourself. The assumption is that people showing up at your door to bring you things is a good thing, but most guests don’t like that part of the experience – there’s a stranger at the door holding his hand out for a tip, and now there is an awkwardness.

People worry about personal security. Think about a woman in a strange city late at night: she’s going to be wary about someone she doesn’t know (from room service) coming to her room.

The robot is a cute little thing, it opens up its lid for delivery and it doesn’t expect a tip and it doesn’t judge you.

The owners or the company were asked if it was true that the design of the robot was influenced by R2-D2 from Star Wars. The response was “We are all influenced by R2-D2. It turns out that George Lucas got it right with the size. The footprint is such that it won’t be tipped over. And any taller than that, and it gets freaky.

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