Here Comes the Robot With Coffee
Growing Demand for Service Robots
Accelerating Use of Robots in Hospitality Industry
Labor shortages and rapidly rising costs are accelerating the use of robots in the hospitality industry. It's an important megatrend in Hong Kong and Japan and a phenomenon that's sweeping worldwide. A big and growing player is Hong Kong-based Rice Robots. It's cute, stocky cuboid robots serve as bellhops at Hong Kong hotels, deliver snacks to office workers in Japan and deliver coffee and drinks to customers at the Hong Kong Cyberport Innovation Hub. For customers of the Hub's Cafe, the drinks come stored in the cute, compact robot's head. Customers use a pin sent to their cellphone to access their order. In the age of Covid, the Rice robots are providing clean and efficient service without an extra layer of human contact, potentially spreading Covid. That's a key reason that demand for robotic service is accelerating.
New Armies of Service Robots
There are growing numbers of global players in the service robot industry such as Denmark's UVD Robots whose robots serve as butlers in Boston hotels and US-based Relay Robotics which builds delivery bots for the hotel industry. What distinguishes these robots is their super smart technologies. They are equipped with light sensors, ultrasound sensors, depth cameras and other navigation devices that enables them to make their way through highly complicated and busy environments including busy lobbies and banks of elevators. They are rapidly providing the hospitality industry with a digital transformation. While their costs remain high, robotic companies have gotten creative. Some offer their robots for rent for a monthly fee, at times in the hundreds of dollars range per robot. The demand for these robots is expected to experience significant growth over the next ten years. Just in 2020, the market for "cute, friendly, little robots" grew 12% globally.