Room-service robots — in the forefront of specific function work bots


At a popular hotel nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, two long-separated technologies came together not long ago — all in the name of toothpaste.

A small robot, outfitted with 3D cameras, was loaded up with a bath kit, a newspaper and a spare towel. It then took the supplies, rolled out of the lobby, called for the elevator and delivered the items to a guest room. Since this demo last fall, a fleet of Relay robots made by Savioke, a company in our investment portfolio, has made more than 50,000 similar deliveries in six cities across North America.

The results of this field test answered a very important question for us as longtime technology investors: What happens when you give a general-purpose computer chip a high-resolution view of its environment and the ability to react to what it sees?

Turns out you create a brand-new industry.

Vertically integrated, function-specific robots that can perceive their environments are able to handle repetitive tasks, learn to do new ones, be available at all hours and be serviced and upgraded easily. Think of a lawn mower that can cut grass by itself. Or a robotic companion able to find, fetch and carry items from a grocery shelf for an elderly shopper — even if the store has moved the items to different shelves.

These kinds of devices are at the forefront of a wave of machines with the potential to work with greater autonomy, at a lower cost, in everything from hospitality and retail to package delivery and situational monitoring. And they are creating investment opportunities in technologies across all these markets — and more.

Read the source article at TechCrunch.