Hilton is testing an artificial intelligence-powered concierge robot for its chain of hotels in the US through a partnership with IBM’s Watson program. The automaton, called “Connie” after company founder Conrad Hilton, can already be found in the Hilton McLean hotel in Virginia. Guests can ask it questions about nearby restaurants, tourist attractions, and hotel information, but it can’t check them in quite yet.
The robot is based on Nao, a popular $8,000 humanoid bot made by French robotics company Aldebaran. The multilingual Nao can be found taking on diverse roles around the world including as a helpful assistant in Japanese banks. Hilton’s version is powered by Watson software, which mostly helps with natural language processing so Connie can understand human speech. Connie also utilizes travel information from WayBlazer, a IBM partner that uses Watson to offer up personalized recommendations for travelers. Watson, which famously beat human champions in a high-profile Jeopardy! competition, is IBM’s gateway to bringing AI to mainstream industries outside the tech industry, albeit in narrow and specific use cases.