Business Beyond Tomorrow

NY midtown robots allow for conversation-free hotel service

A hotel experience without saying a word

Busy business travelers and shy leisure travelers are getting a time-saving and conversation-free experience at a midtown Manhattan hotel thanks to a few machines, including a modified industrial robot.

The original robot, made by MFG Automation, called the ABB IRB 6640, would ordinarily be used to spot weld or transport materials in an industrial setting, according to the manufacturer.

The Yobot luggage-handling robot at the Yotel New York hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Brandon Ancil | CNBC

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At the New York Yotel hotel, the robot is dubbed "Yobot," not to be confused with the Finnish frozen yogurt establishment or the smartphone transportation device. And this Yobot is being used to handle luggage. A substantial amount of luggage.

Yobot can handle 500 pounds, and on a busy day, it negotiates around 300 pieces of luggage, according to Yotel.

"It also allows our staff to focus on the guest and focus on their needs instead of just the simple task of storing a piece of luggage," said Yotel New York's general manager, Claes Landberg, in an interview with CNBC.

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But human interaction can be completely avoided if a guest so desires, thanks to Yotel's check-in kiosks, which can take a minute or two to use depending on the hotel guest's tech savviness. About 95 percent of all check-ins at the hotel are done by kiosk, with the rest being done at the hotel's front desk, according to the hotel.

Yotel wouldn't comment about the amount of money the hotel saves by having automated systems instead of human employees.

And the Yobot isn't the only robot attracting visitors to hotels. The SaviOne, from manufacturer Savioke, is a service robot working at the Aloft hotel in Cupertino, California. That robot delivers meals and amenities to hotel guests. It navigates using cameras and other sensors to avoid damaging the hotel or hurting its customers, according to an article on Designboom last year.