Robot room service, please!


How much should you tip? What’s the proper tipping etiquette? These questions take on another dimension when room service is delivered by – ahem – a robot.

The 21st century is here. We’ve seen robots bust dance moves, take on repetitive tasks on assembly lines, hoover our apartment, and even mow our lawn. Now they’re doing room service.

Meet ‘Jeeves’, a robot butler that can be found roaming the floors of the Radisson Blu Hotel at Zurich Airport, hauling drinks, snacks, or toiletries, directly to the guest’s doorstep. Developed by Munich-based technology company Robotise, Jeeves has been in operation at the hotel since February 2021.

Autonomous communication with elevators

The robot butler communicates autonomously with the hotel’s elevators – and can reach its 330 rooms and suits spread across seven floors entirely on its own. For this to be possible, the hotel’s elevators had to be upgraded to allow the elevators and the robot to interface. “Once the robot gets a service request, he proceeds to the elevator lobby and calls the elevator wirelessly,” explains Christian Studer, Head of New Technologies at Schindler. “The elevator control then ensures a safe and efficient boarding of the robot into the elevator.”

Jeeves is more than just a technological gimmick. By taking on repetitive and time-consuming tasks, the robot allows the hotel front staff to focus on guests. Service robots are proving increasingly popular among hotel managers keen to ramp up “contactless” initiatives to keep their workers and guests safe in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But fear not: robots are not taking over the world just yet. If anything, there are at the mercy of their managers’ whims – just like us mortals. Jeeves takes his marching orders from the hotel front desk staff, using speech recognition technology.

As it turns out, it's not Schindler’s first rodeo with a robot butler.

Meet Yoji and Airabella

A few thousands kilometers away, in Singapore, two AI-powered robot concierges – Yoji and Airabella – are also pulling their weight, helping to service the 130 rooms of YOTELAIR Singapore Changi Airport, located on Singapore Changi Airport grounds. The two robots operate Schindler elevators autonomously through a digital interface.

The concierge robots are not only helping to make the hotel guests’ stay enjoyable. In YOTEL’s case, they have helped to attract visitors who want to experience this unique service for themselves.

Star Wars lookalikes?

With their dome heads and friendly demeanors, Yoji and Airabella strike a certain resemblance to Star Wars droid R2-D2 – although devoted George Lucas fans might shudder at the comparison – and have become brand ambassadors for the hotel.

“Our guests love interacting with Yoji and Airabella, seeing them roam the hotel and delivering items,” says hotel manager Nick Cheesman. “Some guests stay in the hotel just to experience the robots and get that perfect Instagram pic. Having Yoji and Airabella has allowed our crew at the hotel to focus all their attention on our guests, and, let’s face it, robots are always a great conversation starter!”

Michael Dobler, Senior Vice President, Global Key Accounts & Large Projects at Schindler, concludes: “We’re thrilled to be in a position to help our customers unlock the very best of what technology has to offer to support their businesses.”

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