Aloft Hotel to begin testing 'Botlr,' a robotic butler

Cupertino's Aloft Hotel, located across the street from the Apple campus, is introducing a robot butler called “Botlr.” On Aug. 20, the Aloft hotel will begin testing this robotic bellhop, a wheeled service vehicle designed to shuttle items from the hotel lobby desk to guest rooms.  After a human loads it up with the appropriate things, Botlr takes the elevator to the appropriate floor, waits outside the destination room, and places a phone call to let the guest know it has arrived.

Upon opening the door, the guest are greeted by the robot's touchscreen display. Botlr's sensors can tell when the door has been opened, at which point it opens its storage compartment for the recipient to retrieve his or her items. Once it's confirmed that the guests received everything requested, they rate their interaction on a five-star scale and go about the rest of their day.

The Aloft hotel chain uses its Cupertino location as a testing ground to experiment with how technology might improve customer experience. Previously this has included systems for getting music and video content from your personal gadgets onto a hotel room's television screen, or being able to unlock your hotel room with your smartphone. Robotics startup Savioke took notice of the company's forward-thinking tendencies and pitched them on the robot butler idea, reports the Business Insider.

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“I see this as an enhancement to our customer service,” Brian McGuinness, Starwood Hotels’ senior vice president for its Specialty Select brands, which include the 100 Aloft hotels expected to be opened in 14 countries by next year, told the New York Times. “It’s not going to be a replacement for our human talent.”

Starwood uses the Aloft hotel near the Apple campus as a test bed for the technology-oriented hotel chain’s newest gadgets and services. The New York Times reports they experiment with things like easy ways to get digital content from your smartphone and tablet onto your hotel room’s television screen. And, of course, you can unlock the door of your hotel room with an app on your smartphone.

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