First Robotic Butler Set to Take Over California Hotel Starwood

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By Sarah Thomas | August 25, 2014 5:00 PM EST

A US hotel chain, Starwood, has planned to introduce robot butlers to tend to their guests. The butler is said to be put to work in 100 hotels across the world. The Botl,r which is a short for robotic butler, is 3 feet tall and dressed in a vinyl-collared butler uniform.

Reuters
A humanoid robot being checked out at the University of Bonn July 3, 2014

The Botlr's name is A.L.O., which is pronounced as "el-oh." It will begin working day and night to cater to the guests. The company described the Botlr's capabilities and stated that it would bring items to the guests such as towels, toothbrushes and perform other activities upon the request of the guests.

The only work that the staff would have is to feed the Botlr with the command that the guests request by phoning and informing the front desk. The Botlr will be given the guest's room number, and the Botlr would perform the task, navigating hallways and even call for the elevator using Wi-Fi.

A.L.O. was said to begin duty on Aug 20, after which several other Botlrs were also said to join them in the month. Brian McGuinness, senior vice president for the Aloft brand, said he could see having one or two Botlrs in each Aloft hotel. "I think there is a chance that this could go enterprise-wide based on a successful pilot," he said.

Though the thought of the robot is extremely fascinating, it has its own share of problems. Several staff members would be losing their livelihood to the Botlrs. McGuinness stated that though it was replacing the staff, it was also augmenting their ability to service their customers.

A study done at the University of Oxford found that nearly 47 per cent of the U.S. employment is at risk of losing their jobs to machines. The UK hotel workers' union said that the Botlrsaere no replacement for top-quality customer service that real butlers could provide. McGuinness stressed that A.L.O. would not be replacing the staff.

The hotel also explained that the Botlrs, created by Silicon Valley-based start-up Savioke, are not there to replace the staff, but to merely free them from small tasks. The guests can appreciate the robotic butlers on Twitter and they are asked to use a specific hashtag to do the same. The Botlrs do not accept cash tips.

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(Photo: Reuters / Ina Fassbender)
A humanoid robot being checked out at the University of Bonn July 3, 2014
(Photo: Reuters / )
Staff members stand next to a robotic butler at the FusionWorld exhibit at the Fusionopolis building in Singapore October 31, 2008. The FusionWorld gallery showcases more than 60 diverse technologies ranging from data storage to manufacturing technology, drawn from Singapore's A*Star research agency. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash (SINGAPORE)
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