(Re/code) — Steve Cousins, CEO of two-year-old robotics startup Savioke, wants to forge a third path for robotics businesses — a model where the smart devices are used by other companies to improve customer experiences. Savioke calls it “robotics as a service.” Savioke is applying this model to hotels. Its main robot, Relay, is squat, silver and cylindrical, with a simple digital interface and lid on top — imagine a sleeker R2-D2 or a spruced-up trashcan. It primarily works as a silent bell hop, delivering food, towels, etc., at the request of guests and staff. The robot currently operates in four hotel chains in California and New Jersey, and is adding two more soon.
Savioke leases the robots to hotels rather than selling them outright, a model that lets Savioke bear the brunt of the upfront costs and maintenance, Cousins said. He also argued that the robots help an industry besieged by a different type of tech. “It maybe even gives hotels a chance to compete with Airbnb,” he said.Tags: "robotics as a service", Relay, Savioke, Steve Cousins