Alibaba’s FlyZoo Hotel features disc-shaped black-coloured robots who flawlessly serve the visitors by offering them fresh towels and delicious dinner. The robots are only a meter tall and play a major role in cutting down the cost of labour. Moreover, the presence of robots offers an alternative to those visitors who do not wish to interact with service staff.
The AI-powered hotel consisting of 290 rooms was publically inaugurated in December 2018. Alibaba plans to sell its ingenious creation later on to a major player in the hotel industry.
The hotel was publically launched to test how residents of China react to robotic hotel staff. With the continuous advancements in technology, experts are expecting that this unique blend of artificial intelligence with the hotel industry will be received positively.
According to Andy Wang, the CEO of Alibaba Future Hotel Management, this futuristic hotel will feature robotic hotel staff members who are always considerate and unable to exhibit rude behaviour or mood swings. This ensures that the guests are always treated with kindness and consideration because robots do not exhibit human feelings such as bad temper and aggression.
The unmanned hotel features a panelled white interior that adds a futuristic sci-fi touch to it. To check-in, guests need to scan their faces along with their passports and other identification documents at dedicated platforms built near the entrance. Chinese nationals enjoy the benefit of checking into the hotel by scanning their faces via their smartphones.
The futuristic hotel eliminates the need of key cards to unlock hotel rooms. Face scans are enough for opening hotel room doors for guests. This feature has made the guests feel secure because it ensures that nobody can gain access to their rooms besides them.
Inside the rooms, guests use voice commands to perform various tasks such as altering the room temperature, controlling lights, raising curtains and ordering room service.
When guests visit the hotel’s restaurant, they are welcomed by robots that are shaped like capsules. Guests can order food through the FlyZoo app by browsing through its smart menu. Guests can also order drinks at the bar which features a huge robotic arm that mixes various cocktails. Face recognition technology helps in charging money for food and drinks.
Guests also use the FlyZoo app to check-out from the hotel while their hotel bill is charged using an online wallet. As soon as the guests check-out, the face recognition technology deletes their information from its database.
FlyZoo Hotel is located near Alibaba’s Hangzhou headquarters. Renting a single room for a night begins from 1,390 Yuan (£159). The hotel is not completely robotized. It features some humans who work there as chefs, cleaning staff and receptionists. People who are not comfortable with the concept of AI-powered hotel staff will be catered by a human reception staff. They will provide them with key cards and escort them to their rooms.
Facial recognition technology is widely used in China today and the locals welcome such projects with great enthusiasm, according to Mark Natkin, managing director at Marbridge Consulting. Alibaba has incorporated artificial intelligence in various other projects like grocery stores and book stores.
Alibaba plans to build hotels for company staff so that they can check-in during business trips in Beijing and Shanghai. Also, they plan to upgrade FlyZoo to improve its services and fix some glitches. According to Wang, guests have welcomed FlyZoo with great enthusiasm. They were amazed by experiencing the robotic hotel services and look forward to such projects eagerly.