If you are like one of the 10 million Roomba owners in the world, then you are already somewhat used to having a servant robot do some of your menial tasks for you. Driving through an automatic car wash or having a grocery store door slide open for you are even more mundane ways that robots have found their way into our lives. Robots have made a lot of progress in the last ten years, especially in the manufacturing and medical fields, but the latest news about robots seems more like a return to the old-fashioned idea of what robots were supposed to be in the first place.
We all remember cartoons like the Jetsons, in which an apron clad servant robot, named Rosie, was always bustling about, dusting furniture, bringing snacks, and listening to the family’s woes. She was supposed to be like a family member, and that entire generation raised on those cartoons really thought that’s what robots would be by now, in the year 2014. Experiments with robot girlfriends have come frighteningly close to futuristic books and imaginative movies like Her (2013) . But what most Americans are really hoping for, may be just around the corner… a robot who will do all the dumb stuff we don’t want to do for ourselves.
They exist right now and are about to become very popular. Say hello to A.L.O. (el-oh), a hobbit-sized robot butler, or, botlr, created by a small robotics company, Savioke. Starwood Hotel line will begin the experimentation with these cute little botlrs in their Aloft Hotel, located at Cupertino, CA. August 20th will be their first day on the job, and if you are one of the lucky guests at the hotel who forgot his toothbrush or needs something from the lobby, you will be able to call the desk and order it delivered to your room via robot.
One question that always seems to pop up when speaking of introducing robot labor into the real world, is, “Won’t it take away people’s jobs?” With high rates of unemployment weighing heavily on the minds of most Americans these days, it’s a question that bears answering, and we think that Senior Vice President of the Aloft hotel line, Brian McGuinness, answered it effectively.
“It is certainly not replacing our staff, but it is augmenting our ability to service our customers,” McGuinness told CNBC in an interview. The robots are not meant to replace anyone and cut down salary expenses; they are meant to take care of some of the more time-consuming, boring chores that hotel employees are expected to perform while on call during the day, all in the interests of their guests’ comfort. Now, instead of wasting a good ten minutes ferrying a tube of toothpaste to room 221 B, the bell boy can spend quality time helping an elderly lady unload her things from her car and kindly assist her in bringing them to her room, while the robot mindlessly fetches the toothpaste.
It make a lot of sense, both from a customer service aspect as well as from an expense aspect, since the robots will be leased from Savioke at first, and guests who utilize them will be charged a small service fee. Yes, that’s right, yet another charge on your credit card. Perhaps you could think of it as a tip and enjoy being served by a real robot. After all, our parents and grandparents could only dream of this day as they watched black and white TV serials like Commando Cody.