A Chinese e-commerce company, Alibaba, has launched a commercial robot known as the Space Egg.
The Space Egg is a robot porter designed to ferry items around hotels and comprises a curved aluminium casting that covers a set of wheels, using camera and lasers to navigate.
One area where the Alibaba Space Egg stands out from other hotel delivery robots, more on that in a moment, is that it integrates with Alibaba’s Tmall Genie smart speaker, which is similar to Amazon Echo, Google Home and Chinese smart speakers from Baidu, JD.com, Huawei and others. In mid-2017, Alibaba partnered with Marriott to install the Tmall Genie smart speakers in 100,000 hotel rooms. With Genie integrated into hotel rooms, guests can use voice commands to order items that will then be delivered by Space Egg.
Even though the Space Egg is less than a meter in height and quite slow, the robot will "bridge the gap between guest needs and the response time that they expect" said Lijuan Chen of Alibaba AI labs, the group that made the Space Egg, in a press statement. "The robot will be the ultimate assistant for hotel guests who want everything quickly and conveniently at their fingertips." The robot was unveiled at a computing conference in Hangzhou, China, last week, and will start work at its first hotel in the city next month.
Alibaba doesn’t want to miss out. After the trial, Alibaba AI labs said it will determine whether the SpaceEgg is suitable for hospitals, restaurants and offices. Well... the answer is yes, of course, as these environments are less dynamic than others and are already welcoming robots with open arms.