Robots with jade-colored digital eyes could one day turn airports and hotels into a human-free zone.
At the CES tech show in Las Vegas this week, LG unveiled three robots for the hospitality industry whose duties include delivering meals and drinks in hotels and airports, taking luggage to guests’ rooms, and scanning items in stores.
They're part of a range of concept robots called CLOi (pronounced KLOH-ee). The unthreatening name is part of a transparent attempt to make hard robot tech seem soft and friendly, because who wants an evil-looking robot serving a cocktail?
The CLOi robots for the hospitality industry are subtly different. Designed to deliver food and drinks to travelers in hotels and airport lounges, Serving Robot has a built-in sliding tray, which it presents to the customer. CLOi wheels it back to the kitchen as soon as you've tapped its touchscreen to confirm you've got your order. Ah, the personal touch.
Meanwhile, the Porter Robot puts bellboys out of work first by carrying heavy luggage without expecting a hefty tip. It then performs check-in at your room, and checks you out at the end of your stay while carrying your things to a waiting car. Don’t expect much witty conversation, though it does come with voice recognition, so don’t talk down to it.
The third machine is Shopping Cart Robot, which scans items using its own barcode reader, which could be used in hotel stores and kiosks.
Serving Robot, Porter Robot, and Shopping Cart Robot follow in the footsteps of LG's Airport Guide Robot and Airport Cleaning Robot, which have been trialed at South Korea’s Incheon International Airport in Seoul.
Whether or not travelers will like being served by robots remains to be seen, but they do have a huge advantage over the existing staff. After all, robots work 24/7, 365 days a year. (Unless there's a malfunction.)
As well as performing specific functions themselves, the CLOi robots work on LG’s ThinQ platform, so can interact with TVs, air conditioners and other compatible smart electronics. So as well as asking the Porter Robot to put your bags in the corner, you can also instruct it to switch-on the coffee machine — before giving it no tip and yelling at it to leave.