The Relay 2 robot is giving new meaning to "hands-free" service at many hotels across the country.
"I think of it like, you know, the old rubber man where the hand reaching all the way up to the hotel room and here's your stuff. You can't do that for real. Nobody has that kind of stretch. But the robot will really just do that for you," said Steve Cousins, Chief Technology Officer at Relay Robotics.
Relay 2 marries customer service with autonomous technology and hotels have been using it to make room deliveries.
"We work with the hotel, we map the entire hotel, so the robot moves through the hotel, it actually interacts with guests very carefully, it never bumps into a guest, it has very strong sensors around it," said Relay Robotics CEO Michael O'Donnell. "It can ride elevators with people or without people, right up to a guestroom. It can interact with the phone systems and place a phone call to a guest. So it's not as daunting or scary as some of the A.I. technologies today."
Relay 2 is actually the 2nd generation introduced by Relay Robotics. Relay 1 has been on the market since 2014. In New York City, Luma Hotel in Times Square was one of the first hotels to get one.
Relay 2 has a bigger storage capacity and can deliver larger items such as bed linen, room towels, and large food items like pizzas. In addition to NYC, Relay robots are already or soon to be in other major cities, both in the US and abroad.
O'Donnell adds that "We see these robots as a way to assist the staff in their work environment. So we're not trying to replace anyone, but we'll let the robots do the mundane delivery-type tasks and the staff can get back to servicing guests."