The future of travel is looking very….robotic. It seems like every other week there is a new story about robots entering the travel world. Makes me wonder what the heck travel will look like ten, twenty years from now. I think these advances are really cool although I have concerns about losing the human touch in customer service. However, if they can make travel more convenient and cheaper without sacrificing little things like, I don’t know, safety, I think I can learn to adapt to interacting with robots on a more regular basis. Here are my top five travel robots, coming soon to a trip near you….
Actroids. This summer in Japan a hotel will be opening that is staffed with some robots that look very similar to humans. They are called “actroids”. They can speak different languages, and take part in room cleaning and front desk services. The company president wants to have the most efficient hotel in the world and eventually have the hotel services operated by 90% actroids. Sounds a little creepy if you ask me.
Robot valet. Duesseldorf airport in Germany now offers robot valet parking. The robot (named Ray) actually picks up the car (thankfully after confirming no one is inside) and moves it to the appropriate location. Ray can park the cars in a way that saves space, which allows more capacity. Here’s a YouTube video showing Ray in action (pretty cool). Their app coordinates with your itinerary so that Ray knows to bring you your car once ready for pick up. It costs about $33 a day which is actually a better price than I was expecting.
Robot butlers. Starwood Hotels has introduced a three foot tall robot named A.L.O. Its job? To handle some of the hotel guest requests. Items such as toothpaste, razors, and towels can be loaded into A.L.O. then sent on its way to the guest’s room as seen in this video (it can even use the elevator). Starwood is saying A.L.O is not intended to replace employees but instead to allow employees more face time with customers on more important tasks. I like it!
Skytender. The Skytender is a robot that will fill drinks once a flight attendant presses the drink choice on the screen. It can mix as many as fifteen different drinks. I like the idea behind this robot but I would like to see one that doesn’t have to be tended by a flight attendant. I couldn’t find a robot like that in my research but I’m guessing it’s in the works somewhere. Because that’s what scientists need to work on–a more efficient way of getting my drinks. Anyway…
Airport customer-service robot. Indianapolis International Airport now has a robot roaming around that answers customer service questions for passengers. It’s not the fanciest looking of robots. It looks like a cardboard body cutout on wheels with a tablet strapped to the head of the robots body. The tablet displays an actual human from guest services to answer questions via the video cam on the tablet. I’m sure these will get fancier as time progresses, but until then it’s a great idea to help more people in airports while minimizing employees running around.
And supposedly the kiosk used in Global Entry is a “robot,” although I think of it more as a machine.
Readers,have you seen any of these robots firsthand? Any other up and coming travel robots we need to know?
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