Beat that, Google. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has built a hotel porter, dubbed as a “space egg” that can ferry items around hotels. Unveiled at a computing conference in Hangzhou, China, the hotel porter started work this past October.
The space egg features a curved aluminum casing over a set of wheels, and to navigate, it employs a combination of cameras, lasers, and sensors. It’s barely taller than a hotel cart (just three feet) and moves at a snail’s pace (one meter per second). But since it’s mostly going to make deliveries to hotel residents, it probably doesn’t need to be crazy-fast.
To be clear, Alibaba isn’t the first to create a robotic hotel porter. Companies like Savioke and Panasonic beat Alibaba to it when they unveiled Botlr and HOSPI, respectively. But Alibaba’s approach stands out because it has Tmall Genie, the company’s proprietary AI assistant, which functions similarly to Amazon’s Alexa. With Genie, guests can order items via voice commands, which are then delivered by our friendly little Space Egg.
According to Lijuan Chen of Alibaba AI Labs, the group that made the Space Egg, this robot will “bridge the gap between guest needs and the response time that they expect,” and that the “robot will be the ultimate assistant for hotel guests who want everything quickly and conveniently at their fingertips.”
It helps that Alibaba has sufficient experience in robotics, having built robots that roam around its massive warehouses. And you can expect more robots in the future, too. The company is bullish on robot tech; Space Egg might just be the first in many planned experiments involving self-driving robots, like a Space Shuttle for delivering medicines in hospitals.MORE INFO HERE