Hangzhou: China’s e-tail giant Alibaba on Thursday unveiled a robot that will serve guests in the country’s hotels soon. “The robotics industry is revolutionising the world and Alibaba Artificial Intelligence (AI) Labs is raising the stakes in this industry with the launch of service robots for hospitality sector starting October,” the company said at its annual Cloud Computing Conference 2018 being held here.
The robot was unveiled by Alibaba AI Labs, the AI product development arm, at the four-day tech summit in this scenic city where Alibaba is headquartered, about 180 km southwest of Shanghai. “This robot will help bridge the gap between the guest needs and the response time they expect. It is the next step in the evolution towards smart hotels,” said the General Manager of Alibaba AI Labs, Lijuan Chen. Guests staying in hotels will be able to communicate with the robot via voice command, touch and hand gestures. The robot will in turn respond to them through AliGenie, the software behind Alibaba’s smart speaker, Tmall Genie. “The robot will be the ultimate assistant for hotel guests who want everything quickly at their fingertips,” added Lijuan.
With a multi-sensor data functionality, parallel computing for quick responses, autonomous navigation system to identify obstacles, communication systems to control elevators and identity verification through facial recognition technology, the one-metre tall robot can walk at a metre per second speed. “After trial at a hotel, Alibaba AI Labs will assess its suitability for other areas, including hospitals, restaurants and office services,” the company added.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, the global market for service robots is expected to grow from 20 to 25 per cent from 2018 to 2020. The ninth edition of the tech conference is being held from September 19-22 here in the provincial capital of Zhejiang, featuring the latest trends in cloud computing, AI, Internet of Things and blockchain.