In our previous post we looked at socially engaging robots and how they are helping to break down barriers to remote presence. Another area on the fringe of telepresence is service robots. These robots operate autonomously, but have the ability to be controlled in telepresence mode when the need arises. The symbiosis between robot and machine allows these robots to take care of easier things, while allowing humans to take over when it needs help. As autonomy improves, the bar moves higher and higher.
In this second Silicon Valley Robotics Case Study, Savioke CEO Steve Cousins talks about his alpha customers and early trials, discusses the evolution of his company’s business strategy, and describes how robot delivery as a service fits into the hotel service model. Savioke has just raised a $15M Series A round for their hotel delivery robots, which are now deployed in five hotel chains, have completed 12,000 successful deliveries, and have an NSF grant to explore other applications for their robots, like eldercare. You can follow the full SVR Case Study series on Robohub here.
Robotics is finally stepping out of science fiction and into service, if not in our homes, then at least in our hotels, hospitals, restaurants, warehouses, hardware stores and other retail outlets. This new report series from Silicon Valley Robotics highlights the first steps of startups Fetch Robotics, Fellow Robots, Savioke and Adept into the emerging service robotics industry, with additional analysis contributed by industry experts.
The service robotics industry is relatively new, diverse and picking up steam daily. Service robotics covers every activity except those described as industrial. These are robots that perform useful tasks for humans and are categorized as either personal or professional.
Leading hotel operator the InterContinental Group is introducing delivery robots at its Crowne Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley property. The robots, made by local startup Savioke, will deliver snacks, toothbrushes and other amenities to guests in their rooms.
Yesterday a second Japanese telecommunication firm entered the consumer robot-as-a-service market when the state-owned Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) announced it would partner with its subsidiary NTT Data and robot maker Vstone to develop a tabletop companion robot that can talk and communicate with smart devices. NTT joins Softbank in the move to market networking and cloud computing services to a massive existing consumer base using consumer robotics. NTT says its Sota companion robot will cost about 100,000 JPY (~$800USD), with a monthly service fee of a few thousand JPY (~$30). UPDATE: Softbank will take pre-orders for enterprise version of Pepper starting Oct 1
UPDATED 7/22/15 Commercial drones will reach $4.8B by 2021. Agricultural robots will reach $16.8B by 2021 and $73.9B by 2024. And demand for healthcare robotics to show “tremendous growth” in the next 5 years.
FSR, the biannual single track meeting on field and service robotics, is on now in Toronto. With 42 papers on a range of applications and keynotes by Chris Urmson (Google[x]), Paul Newman (Oxford), Sanjiv Singh (CMU), and Ryan Gariepy (Clearpath Robotics), lots of ground will be covered. Robohub’s Hallie Siegel is on site at the event – check out the live tweets below.