This room service robot is gaining ground in the world's posh hotels

Savioke, maker of the Relay delivery robot, just raised $15M in Series A funding. Have you seen one in the wild yet?
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

It must be robot butler week here at ZDNet.

Yesterday the maker of hotel delivery bot Relay announced $15 million in Series A financing. The lead investor on this round is Intel Capital. That brings the total raised for Savioke to $17.6 million, following seed investment from Morado Venture Partners, Google Ventures, and others.

To observers, using a delivery robot to disrupt room service certainly seemed like a strange target for a promising group of Bay Area roboticists. But money talks, and clearly the roboticists were onto something.

"The time has finally come when robots are going to be at our beck and call," said Savioke CEO Steve Cousins, "and for our robots in the hospitality industry we mean that quite literally."

Here's how it works: Approximately 3-feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, Relay is designed to travel at human walking pace. It makes room deliveries independently, calling elevators via WiFi to navigate between floors.


When you order something on your phone, a hotel employee will pop the latch on Relay to reveal an inner bucket, which is where your items are stored. Instructions are given through a touchscreen interface, and then Relay heads for the elevator.

When it reaches your room, the bot phones to announce its arrival. You take the items, and then Relay turns back to the docking station, where it awaits its next delivery.

Since the introduction of Relay in late 2014, the robot fleet has been busy. Here are some of the baseball card stats:

-- Relay is now deployed at five of the world's major hotel brands

-- In addition to routine room deliveries at the Residence Inn by Marriott Los Angeles LAX/Century Boulevard, Relay is also delivering coffee to guests from the hotel lobby Starbucks.

-- The Relay fleet made over 11,000 guest deliveries in 2015

-- Those deliveries added up to more than 3,000 kms, or more than 70 marathons

-- The most common item delivered was toothpaste

-- For the second year running, the Christmas holidays are Relay's busiest season

-- Relay's biggest day on Twitter was when it was photographed delivering a beer on-stage at the BusinessWeek Design Conference in April. Because people love beer and robots. Duh.

So have you seen this ambitious robot in your travels? Tweet me @gcnichs with any sightings.

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