Summer Travels


It's been a very busy and hectic last few months bringing Relay to market and spreading the word on autonomous hotel delivery robots, but also a very fun summer as well. 

It began with a bang at HITEC, the annual tradeshow for hospitality technology.  It's fair to say we were one of the hot topics there, but don't take our word for it.  Check out Hotel robots catch up to personalization as hot topics in hospitality.

We have a lot of exciting announcements coming along the way.  Follow us on Twitter @Savioke or check our blog for updates. In the meantime, here's what's coming and going on at Savioke.

Live in Five Hotels

Relay is now appearing in hotels around Silicon Valley and beyond. During the summer, our fleet of Relays surpassed 5,000 deliveries made and over 1,000 miles traveled. In addition to the robots in the Aloft Cupertino and Aloft Silicon Valley, Relay can now be found in the Crowne Plaza Silicon Valley/San Jose and the Holiday Inn Express in Redwood City. Watch for announcements of other hotel deployments in Sunnyvale, Los Angeles, and across the country by the end of the year.

Production version of Relay

A few months' back we announced the newly redesigned, production version of Relay. Relay is the culmination of months of prototype testing, code hardening, and rolling in customer feedback. We’re now in production and proud to say that a majority of parts are fabricated in California with the final assembly taking place in our in-house production facility. This was a big milestone in scaling to meet demand for our early adopter program.

Backed by Support

We have big ambitions for Savioke and to meet those goals we're going to need some great partners.  With that in mind, we announced partnership agreements this summer with both Konica Minolta and Bell and Howell.  While our early customers have been deliberately in our Silicon Valley backyard, these relationships allow us to confidently expand across the U.S. and beyond.

 Intel Developer Forum 2015

We had an incredible time at this year's IDF. Relay was featured during the Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich's keynote address, autonomously delivering a Diet Coke for a mid-presentation refreshment. We also announced our collaboration with Intel with the integration of their RealSense cameras into our robots. We are proud to be working with Intel to release an open-source RealSense ROS driver, available to the community later this year.

Upcoming Events:

If you still haven't had a chance to take that robo-selfie with Relay, look for us at the following events this month:


Sept. 23-24, San Jose

We’re excited to be a part of this year’s RoboBusiness. Our team will be there to answer questions and show off Relay, our delivery robot. You can find us by the entrance of the Expo Hall in Booth 201.  You can also hear CEO Steve Cousins discuss Integrating Robotics: The Selling As A Service Trend, and Tessa Lau and Adrian Canoso discuss Designing Service Robots at the Expo Theater.

Southern California Hotel & Lodging Conference

Sept. 23, Los Angeles

Look for Relay at the biggest hospitality conference and trade show in Southern California.  Details here.


Sept. 28, Los Angeles

Relay will be sharing the stage with noted futurist Amy Webb as she discusses Tech Trends in Journalism.

Hotel Technology Conference

Oct. 22, Singapore

Relay makes its first international trip!  Details here.

Greatest Hits:

Given that summer is vacation season, you might very well have been off on some deserted island and unable to keep up with Savioke's press coverage.  Below is a tiny sampling of some recent articles with the full gamut here.

Hotels Get Delivery Robots Thanks to Bay Area Startup

NBC Bay Area 

Welcome to the Future: Robot Room Service Is Here

Yahoo! Travel 

Delivery Robots are Coming to a Hotel Near You

Popular Science 

Smart robot delivers a Diet Coke to Intel chief on stage


Intel camera gives robots 3D vision


Hotel robots catch up to personalization as hot topics in hospitality



Relay Heads to Asia

You can read the official announcement here, but we wanted to let you know that Relay is getting ready to take his first international road trip!

Relay will be making its debut outside the U.S. at the Hotel Technology
Conference on October 22 in Singapore.

Savioke is teaming up with show organizer Questex to make this happen.
Questex operates a variety of market-leading events throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific region,
including the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) Summit Series:
the International Hotel Investment Forum, held annually in Berlin; North
America Tourism & Hospitality Investment Conference (NATHIC);
Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum in Madrid (MR&H); Russia &
CIS Hotel Investment Conference (RHIC); Turkey & Neighbours Hotel
Investment Conference (CATHIC); and Asia Pacific Hotel Investment
Conference (APHIC).

As Alexi Khajavi, Executive Vice President of Questex Hospitality Group,
has said: "Hiring talented staff members is becoming increasingly
difficult in Asia, so hoteliers are looking toward technology innovations
to help increase productivity.

Savioke's Relay is the perfect solution to ease our peoplepower shortage and
we are delighted to host the first occasion where Asian hoteliers will
observe Relay in person.

If you plans take you to HotelTech in October, please be on the lookout
for Relay.  Hope to see you there.

Intel RealSense Camera on ROS

The complete release is here, but today we announced our collaboration with Intel to bring ROS support to the Intel RealSense Camera. (Related article on Venturebeat here).

The announcement was made during Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s opening keynote at the Intel Developer Forum this morning.  Our hope is that this work will make the Intel RealSense Camera more accessible to the worldwide robotics community by developing a wrapper for ROS. The wrapper will allow developers to make use of the longer range Intel RealSense Camera, which is ideal for sensing the environment.

A fleet of Relay robots, our state-of-the-art robot designed for autonomous delivery of items between people, are on site during the course of the Intel Developer Forum this week.


Meet Crowne Plaza's Dash by Savioke

Savioke is proud to announce that another innovative hotel is using our autonomous delivery robots to provide expedient and delightful service to its guests.  The Crowne Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley is the latest hotel property to begin using Savioke's Relay, which they call Dash. Dash is part of the Crowne Plaza front desk team and specializes in delivering items to guests in their rooms. Dash allows the other members of the front desk team to focus on value-added customer service that only people can provide. 
"We pride ourselves in making business travel work for our guests, and Dash will further enhance the guest experience through providing quick and seamless delivery of snacks, toothbrushes and other amenities to hotel guests," said Winnie Kwok, GM of Crowne Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley. "Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, our hotel is making use of the best technology innovation that Silicon Valley has to offer."
To learn more about Crowne Plaza's Dash check out the official release:

1000 Kilometers and counting

We're proud to report on some big milestones at Savioke. In the course of doing over 4000 deliveries, our robots have now traversed over 1000 km autonomously indoors, well over half of that on trips involving elevator rides. We have also retired the last SaviOne robot from the field, so all hotel deliveries going forward will be done by our new Relay robots. 

Thanks to all those guests of the Cupertino Aloft and Silicon Valley Aloft hotels who have tried the Botlr robot delivery service, taken selfies with the robots, and posted very nice Trip Advisor reviews mentioning them. And a special thanks to the Aloft staff members who tirelessly answer the questions "what is that?" and "what does it do?" with "try it!"

We can't wait for the day when there are thousands of Relay robots doing deliveries all around the world, but right now we're celebrating this important milestone along the way.

Robots in Texas? You Betcha

Savioke will be in Austin, Texas from June 15-18 at the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC 2015).   Relay will be on hand to dazzle and delight the attendees, and demonstrate the future of autonomous delivery.  

Stop by to meet Savioke representatives and take a selfie with Relay at Savioke's Booth 955 at the Austin Convention Center.

Also, hear CEO Steve Cousins on Wednesday, June 17th at 4 pm as he discusses how hotels have been using Savioke robots, the impact on OSAT, and what to expect in 2015 and beyond.  

And whether you are attending HITEC or not, please follow us on Twitter @Savioke and #HITEC2015 for updates from Austin. 

Successful Pilot

Savioke is proud to announce the successful conclusion of its SaviOne pilot as we transition into our next phase of delivery robots. Over the past six months, SaviOne has made over 2000 deliveries and driven over 300 kilometers. This is an unprecedented feat - our robots glided around crowds of people, rode with human counterparts in elevators, and interacted with guests as they handed off deliveries to them, all on their own, autonomously.

Early in the pilot, a Savioke "wrangler" followed the robot on all runs, acting like the safety driver in an autonomous car - not touching the controls. After extensive testing and refinement, we let SaviOne work on its own and it has been delivering snacks, drinks, and amenities without supervision ever since. We’ve expanded our fleet into more hotels and we’re excited about announcing our upcoming partners in the coming weeks.

With every end there is a new beginning: we're proud to provide a sneak peak at our next beloved robot, the all new Relay, and our early adopter program. In the spirit of teamwork and speedy deliveries, Relay works with staff to "relay" items from one person to another.  We have redesigned Relay from the ground up for volume manufacturability while expanding upon the charm that people have come to love and the service that they rely on.

Sit tight, we'll provide more information about Relay in the coming weeks. 

Stay tuned and find out how you can get involved in our early adopter program. We’re excited to announce the next step in our mission to develop robots that provide a revolutionary experience for staff and guests alike.


We are one year old this month, and have been working on SaviOne since October. This is an extremely busy time for Savioke, but I don’t want to let this moment pass without acknowledging at least a few of the many people who have helped us get to this point.

First and foremost, I have learned something from every one of the hundreds of people who worked at Willow Garage. Indeed, it was a deep robotics education for me, made possible by Scott Hassan who founded that company. Willow Garage brought the Savioke founding team together, and was a place where we could get a broad view of the robotics landscape.

The Willow Garage family included Creativa 77, a company in Argentina led by Julian Cerruti. They have been working closely with us as an extended part of our team, contributing directly in areas such as navigation logic, user interface, software architecture as well as leading services engagement with our customers in the area of Android-based autonomous navigation for ground and aerial vehicles.

The Robot Operating System (ROS), created by Willow Garage and a number of universities, notably Stanford, and contributed to by a worldwide community that I won’t attempt to enumerate here, is the basis for our work. ROS maintenance and evolution is now led by the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), and Brian Gerkey and the great team there continue to be extremely responsive to needs of the community, including us.

ROS, and more generally the fact that we can now build commercial robots, is made possible by the thousands of researchers who have been working on fundamental problems for decades. It would be impossible to describe this body of work in a short blog, but let me give a concrete example. At the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Robotics Institute, hundreds of mobile robots from self-driving cars to indoor robots like ours have been developed over the past 30 years. Manuela Veloso’s CoBots group has had mobile robots running around the CMU campus since 2009, an effort that gives us confidence that indoor navigation around people over long periods of time is indeed possible. Her work builds on prior work at CMU and around the world. Organizations like the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, Silicon Valley Robotics, and RoboBusiness have kept the fire alive for this budding industry for a long time now.

On the hardware side, we are the beneficiaries of technical progress on a wide number of fronts. 3D printers, especially low-cost versions made widely available by the “Maker” community, have enabled us to build and refine great-looking prototypes at an unprecedented rate (we particularly like MakerGear and GigaBot!). We benefit from 50 years of exponentially decreasing processor costs, low-cost sensors from the game industry, readily available electric motors and gearboxes, batteries, etc.

Operationally, we have been able to move very quickly thanks to Amazon Prime, and more generally the ability to purchase components or have them made, and have them delivered within a day or two. And we’ve found trusted partners that help us move fast, particularly Function Engineering for mechanical systems and OLogic for electrical systems. Ruth Mohanram at Many Happy Returns does an amazing job for us (and many other startups) on HR and Finance.

We benefit from being part of a very supportive community of people who have been informal or formal advisors, making suggestions and introductions that are invaluable, people like Mark Frisse, Mark Yim, Adam Schroeder, Henry Evans, Dan Steere, Steve Croft, Stefan Nusser, Shiz Kobara, and many others. We’re fortunate to be in Silicon Valley, where the investment culture is such that there is a large group of people who are willing to listen to new ideas, offer advice, and fund them if they seem promising. Manu Kumar, an investor and friend, pointed out that if you want contacts in the hotel industry you literally just have to go to hotels and ask for the manager. All of our investors have been willing to give us feedback on strategy questions, and Google Ventures in particular has an extensive support network of designers, marketers, and other experts available to help their portfolio companies.

Finally, thanks to the folks at Starwood for believing we could make this robot work, and helping us to find ways to delight their guests and empower their people, and for Lance McCurdy and Jeff Zogg at the Aloft Cupertino for “getting it” right away and supporting the SaviOne/Botlr pilot.

Your Robot Butler Has Arrived


All of us at Savioke are pleased to announce the unveiling of our new robot – SaviOne.

As of August 20, anyone who wants to see our robot in person can do so at the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, California.  The only catch is that you'll have to be a guest there and forget to pack your toothbrush or cell phone charger - because SaviOne is a service robot designed for the hospitality industry.  Guests that request items from the front desk can have that item delivered by a robot. 

Next week marks the beginning of Savioke's pilot program, and we are very excited to be partnering with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the parent company of Aloft Hotels. You can read Starwood's own announcement here.

Savioke will expand its pilot program to include additional hotels early next year.  Anyone wishing to sign up for our early adopter program can do so here:  

Guests at the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino are able to meet A.L.O., Starwood's name for the newest member of their team, the first “Botlr”.  

The robot is approximately 3 feet tall, weighs less than 100 lbs., has a carrying capacity of 2 cubic feet, and is designed to travel at a human walking pace.  It can even travel independently between floors via the hotel elevator.  When Aloft's A.L.O. arrives at the appropriate guest room, it phones the guest to announce its arrival, delivers the goods and makes its way back to the front desk.  A.L.O. will know when a guest opens the door via an onboard camera. Once the door opens, A.L.O. will unlock, open its lid and provide instructions through onscreen prompts for guests to remove the item and close the lid.  

We expect A.L.O. to delight guests, and also believe that some travelers will make a point of visiting the Cupertino Aloft for the sole purpose of getting a chance to meet A.L.O. in person. We believe the staff has more important things to do than deliver a toothbrush or a package of chips to a room, and that they would prefer to spend their time creating a more personalized experience for guests.

According to Brian McGuinness, Global Brand Leader of Aloft Hotels, "The appointment of Botlr makes Aloft the first major hotel chain to utilize robots both back and front of the house. People have been waiting decades for their robot butler to arrive and we’re happy that the time has finally come and that our guests can be the first in the world to take advantage of this amazing technology and service breakthrough."

Is tipping appropriate? We're not sure, but tweets and selfies with A.L.O. are more than welcome at #meetbotlr.

They say that every journey begins with a single step.  Next week marks a major milestone in our mission to create autonomous robots for the services industry.  Except, in this case our robot’s journey begins with a single robot wheel rotation.


Former Willow Garage CEO to Lead Service Robotics Company

SUNNYVALE, Calif.,  —  April 9, 2014Savioke today announced that it has raised $2 million in seed financing from lead investor Morado Venture Partners, along with AME Cloud Ventures, Google Ventures, and individual investors.  Savioke will use the funding to further develop its inaugural robot, focusing on the services industry.  

CEO Steve Cousins and the team at Savioke established the company in 2013. Cousins was previously president and CEO of the personal robotics pioneer Willow Garage, where he oversaw the creation of the robot operating system (ROS), the PR2 robot, and the open source TurtleBot. In the last three years of his tenure at Willow Garage, Cousins also managed the successful spin-off of eight different robotics companies.  

“We are passionate about delivering easy-to-use yet sophisticated robots that can help people. Our goal is to improve the lives of people by developing and deploying robotic technology in service environments.”

— Steve Cousins, CEO of Savioke

“There’s a unique entrepreneurial excitement surrounding Silicon Valley’s robotics industry today, and much of that is due to the efforts of the team at Savioke. As the market for service robots continues to grow, AME is pleased to offer our support to Savioke.”

— Jerry Yang, Founding Partner at AME Cloud Ventures

“As the lines continue to blur between industrial and personal robotics industries, Google Ventures is thrilled to be working with an exceptional group of people at Savioke. Steve and his team already have had a lot to do with moving the robotics industry forward. The next act promises to be even more revolutionary.”

— Andy Wheeler, General Partner at Google Ventures

“In Savioke, we see an exceptional team focused on a substantial problem. They have a unique vision for bringing autonomous service robots to market, and the technology chops and proven track record to build an outstanding robot.”

— Ash Patel, Managing Director at Morado Venture Partners

The Savioke team includes a wide variety of experts in the field of robotics, business, and design, including robot hardware and software.  The company's robot will utilize and build upon ROS, the open source robot operating system.  

Savioke plans to begin customer trials later this year.

About Savioke
Savioke (pronounced "savvy oak") is creating autonomous robots for the services industry. Savioke aims to improve the lives of people by developing and deploying robotic technology in human environments.  Savioke was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA.  For more information, please visit, or follow the company @Savioke

Press Contact:
Tim Smith
Element Public Relations


[Originally presented at the
Silicon Valley Robotics Investor Forum in Palo Alto,
with an obvious homage to David Letterman]

10. Focus Focus Focus. When I started at Willow Garage, we had two projects (an autonomous car and an autonomous boat) and were planning to grow to 60 people, and I thought we needed to “round out the portfolio.” WRONG. Well, kind of wrong… the third project, the personal robot, ended up being the one we focused on. But it was absolutely the right thing to do to focus.

9. Market First - What Does It Do? Willow Garage produced the PR2 robot, a $400K two-armed, mobile manipulator that was capable of doing all kinds of things. We programmed it to play pool, to deliver a beer from the fridge, and delivered it to researchers who made it do tons of more things. But that question “what does it do” was always hard to answer. The real answer was that it enabled researchers to advance robotics, but that’s not the answer someone asking “what does it do” was looking for.

8. “Research Market” is an Oxymoron. Lots of startups have focused their marketing efforts on the academic research market. It’s attractive, because the customers are just like us. They have a little money, so you get paying early adopters. But it’s very difficult for companies to jump to a “real market” after starting this way.

7. Home vs. Factory is a false dichotomy. There is more to the world than just homes and factories. There is a whole service industry in the middle, with hospitals, restaurants, hotels, elder care facilities, offices, that is virtually untouched by robotic hands - hundreds of billions of dollars of market opportunity, virtually untapped.

6. $400K is too much for a service robot. Not always too much for a robot - “too much” depends on use, and certainly there are space robots or special-purpose robots that would be worth much more. But the robot has to provide more value than it costs, and $400K is a lot of cost.

5. The Press Loves Robots. Robots capture our imagination, and this cuts both ways. It’s easier to get attention for a humanoid robot than it is for much other technology, but the history of robots in movies and stories sometimes raises unrealistic expectations.

4. Less is More. The statement “build the minimum viable product (MVP)” is very true - any extra features add cost, complexity, and risk. This is well known, but so tempting that it’s worth repeating, as a mantra, about once every couple of days in a startup.

3. Perfect autonomy is not necessary. A service robot is part of a system that is designed to do some work, and it is fair game to augment the environment or have a human in the loop as long as the overall cost is acceptab

2. $15M is too big for a Series A funding round. Period.

1. Simple is Hard… and worth it. A successful venture will try to simplify everything: the use of the product, the adoption curve, the sales process, etc. Nest is a beautiful example of taking common technology and making it easy on the outside in spite of the complexity on the inside.


[I was once advised that every presentation should either implicitly or explicitly answer “who are you and why are you here?” at the beginning, since the audience will be trying to figure it out before they hear your message anyway. I was once asked the question directly during a job interview… awkward, especially since I’d been working with the interviewer as in intern for 6 months… but I digress.]

We are a group of people who intend to make the world a better place by creating robots that help people. We do not intend to create a race of robot overlords. Rather, we will create robots that enable people to do more: to stretch outside the bounds of our bodies, to do things we could never do, or can no longer do.

We are also impatient. Many of us have the training to be successful academic researchers, but we want to see the results of our work sooner rather than later. We want to solve problems and then see our solutions in action, making the world a better place.

We want to change the world. Although robots are often portrayed as evil or controlling, that’s more Hollywood story-making than reality. We have seen firsthand the power that robots under human control can have for good: we are inspired by the stories on the Robots for Humanity website (, in which robots help people to overcome disabilities.

Although Savioke is only a few months old, the founding team had worked together at Willow Garage (, where we contributed to Robots for Humanity with the PR2 robots, and where we forged our resolve to put robots into the world for good.