Relay: A delivery robot for the hospitality industry

By | September 14, 2015

Delivery robots are not a new concept and several systems have been in operation in past decades. For example, delivery robots have been used in hospital environments to deliver medicine. In fact, delivery was on the first imagined practical applications for mobile robots. However, in the early days of robotics, the delivery robots were slow, difficult to interact with, and required that the environment be modified to aid their operations, e.g., navigational markers painted on the floor to allow localization.

Today, robotics scientists and engineers have solved (from a practical point of view) some of the most fundamental problems in robotics, especially those of Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), and navigation in complex, dynamic, environments. Hardware improvements in sensing have been essential in these advances. Furthermore, a better understanding of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) principles allow the development of robots that are both easy and pleasant to use. Large decreases in manufacturing costs and electronics components coupled with a more open approach to sharing robotics software components via an Open Source movement are now making it possible for specialized worker robots to begin entering our lives.

Savioke’s Relay is one such robot. Relay is designed to deliver small items or other amenities, efficiently and securely to hotel guests. The robot is stylish, easy to interact with, and frees hotel stuff from performing menial tasks and focus on more important activities that improve stay satisfaction for guests.

Relay’s software is derived from the open source Robot Operating System (ROS) and it utilizes some of the most advanced sensors for perception, including Intel’s RealSense 3D camera. In fact, Relay even made an appearance during the keynote speech at the recently held Intel Developer Forum (IDF15) in San Francisco.

So, here is an overview of the robot from Savioke’s CEO and engineering team. It includes some hints about the future of mobile robots and the company’s plans in that space.