Aloft Hotel Adds Automatic Porter to Guest Amenities

Botlr is the latest staff addition to the Aloft hotel, which is across the street from Apple headquarters.
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Botlr is the latest staff addition to the Aloft hotel, which is across the street from Apple headquarters.
robot bellhops

Photo Credit: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

As Silicon Valley continues its march toward automation, the Aloft hotel is testing a new staff member: the Botlr robot bellhop by Savioke.

The three-foot-high robot was designed to deliver items like chargers, toothbrushes, newspapers and razors to guest rooms from the lobby at a clip of nearly 4 miles per hour. But don't worry: Botlr won't make hotel staff obsolete.

"I see this as an enhancement to our customer service," explained Brian McGuinness, who is the senior vice president of Starwood Hotels' Specialty Select brands, including Aloft. "It's not going to be a replacement for human talent."

When Botlr arrives at a guest's doorstep, it prompts a phone call to the room. The robot's embedded sensors detect when the door's been opened and lift its storage bin lid accordingly. Guests can then use its touchscreen display to confirm receipt of requested items and leave a review. Positive reviews cause Botlr to do a little dance before returning to the lobby to recharge.

The key benefit of Botlr is that it frees up front desk workers to spend more "face" time with guests. Its capabilities have great potential for other applications in hospital and even educational settings.