Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Imagineering & Good Morning America Make Plans for Relay

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Three months after being selected to join The Walt Disney Company’s coveted Accelerator program, Savioke’s CEO Steve Cousins, took the stage at the Disney Studios in Burbank to share the projects, pilots, and collaborations underway with Disney partners and brands.  

As part of the 2017 Disney Accelerator, Savioke and 10 other innovative startups connect with the creativity, imagination and expertise of The Walt Disney Company, which provides unprecedented access to its leadership team, mentorship, and support.  The Accelerator program culminates today with “Demo Day” where CEOs present their companies and give details on plans and collaborations with Disney.

The Walt Disney Company concluded the 2017 Disney Accelerator program today by hosting its fourth annual Demo Day. At the event, the eleven participating companies presented their businesses to investors, Disney executives and other industry leaders.

The Walt Disney Company concluded the 2017 Disney Accelerator program today by hosting its fourth annual Demo Day. At the event, the eleven participating companies presented their businesses to investors, Disney executives and other industry leaders.

Read the official Demo Day press announcement or watch the video of Disney Accelerator presentations.  Below is full the transcript of Steve Cousins’ presentation:

Robots have been hard at work, helping us in our factories and warehouses since the 1960s. Nowhere have robots made a bigger impact than the automobile industry where giant industrial robots, kept far away from people, have made huge improvements in quality, productivity, and safety.

Welcome to the next generation of robotics. This is the generation where robots come out of the factories to work alongside us.

I’m Steve Cousins, founder and CEO of Savioke, the pioneer in service robotics.  We create robots that help people… and make them smile.

Now, I’m proud to introduce you to Relay, the first autonomous indoor delivery robot for the busy places people work, live, and play

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Since 2014, Relay has been working with hotel staff to surprise and delight guests all around the world. Relay is reliable, easy to use, and completely autonomous. He even uses the elevator all by himself.  

Most important, Relay is safe around people -- and not just workers in steel-toed boots. Relay gracefully navigates through dynamic environments, avoiding all obstacles and people in his way. He is especially gentle and safe around children who often want to hug him or chase him through the hallways.  In fact, the first time we installed Relay in a hotel, we saw a three year old’s bare feet through the robot’s eyes.  That’s the safety case we designed Relay for.

It’s Savioke’s combination of award-winning design, proprietary technology, and innovative engineering that makes this a reality.

Today, Relay is in nearly 70 locations in the US, Europe, and Asia including all the major hotel brands. Beyond hotels, Relay is working in logistics centers, bringing tools and parts to technicians, and will be in hospitals next month, delivering medications to patients and nurses.

Yes, Relay is giving us superpowers to be more productive, but the real magic is his character. It’s Relay’s charm, politeness, and honesty that makes him a beloved teammate rather than just a functional appliance.

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That’s why working with Disney is a dream come true. And why we are thrilled to announce that Walt Disney World resorts is starting a pilot with Relay in a hotel at Walt Disney World Resort.  We are also exploring opportunities for collaboration with Walt Disney Imagineering. Additionally, Good Morning America is planning to test Relay as part of their team, delivering coffee, scripts, and surprises to the hosts and celebrities.

 As you can see, Relay will soon be a very busy bot. But no matter how famous Relay becomes, his mission will always be to help people help themselves.

Now, with the support and inspiration of Disney, Relay can go beyond our imagination… because dreams really can come true.

Savioke’s Bob Bauer, Steve Cousins, and Lauren Schechtman take a break from Demo Day rehearsals to visit the Happiest Place on Earth.

Savioke’s Bob Bauer, Steve Cousins, and Lauren Schechtman take a break from Demo Day rehearsals to visit the Happiest Place on Earth.

Can robots help the U.S. get its economic mojo back?

Written for TechCrunch by Steve Cousins, Founder & CEO, Savioke

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A 2017 ranking on global competitiveness from the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) shows the US in fourth place, it’s lowest position in five years, slipping from third a year earlier. Hong Kong, Switzerland, and China now place before the US when it comes to providing a stable environment for businesses to flourish.

We only have to look at the top three most competitive countries to understand what’s driving economic growth for their businesses and prosperity for their citizens; the common thread is aggressive adoption of automation.

These countries consider robots the fuel that will ignite business growth, enable humans to do more productive and meaningful work, and expand overall economies.

If we really want to reverse our country’s downward trajectory in the world’s competitive ranking, we need to embrace robots — and all forms of automation — with open arms. While some people fear robots will replace human workers, there’s overwhelming evidence robotics and other emerging technologies will actually make the US economy stronger, providing us the resources we need to address dislocation or other social issues we face.

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What’s happening on the global stage within countries is also reflected in individual businesses. Companies that use the latest automation technologies are the most productive and profitable, and are thus the ones aggressively hiring.

As noted by Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, in a recent TechCrunch article,“If you look at … a combination of man and machine, and you look at some of the examples that have really kind of surprised us in just how they’ve taken off — like Uber, like the Apple store — they are actually cases where humans are made more powerful by this background. And that creates a better customer experience, which creates new demand.”

Amazon is an example of strong workforce expansion despite, or perhaps as a result of, heavy investment in automation. In the quarter that ended in June, Amazon’s workforce grew by 42% year-on-year to 382,400 jobs.

In hospitality, an industry that uses my company’s robots,  job growth directly resulting from automation is something we’re witnessing first hand. Residence Inn LAX is only one example of a hotel that had to hire additional staff to support the bump in business attributable to their robot butler. It’s clear, for American companies — and the US economy overall — to remain competitive globally, businesses must embrace automation and other new technologies.

Unfortunately, as US leaders drag their heels on adopting robotic automation, other countries are moving full steam ahead to embrace the robot revolution. China, for one, unquestionably believes robots will make its economy more competitive. With annual spending on robotics set to exceed US$59 billion by 2020, China is by far the largest and fastest-growing robotics market in the world, accounting for more than 30% of global spending in the next three years, says a recent report from IDC.

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“China has launched a sweeping proposal called ‘Made in China 2025,’ as well as a five-year robot plan, to focus on automating key sectors of the economy including car manufacturing, electronics, home appliances, logistics, and food production,” explained a recent Bloomberg article titled Inside China’s Plans for World Robot Domination. And and even though the Chinese economy trails the US by $7 trillion, it’s catching up quickly due to aggressive use of technology to make its companies and citizens more productive. A study by PricewaterhouseCooper says China’s economy will surpass the US by 2050.

US sentiment towards robots is often negative, supported by one-sided reports and studies of automation taking over the workforce. However, rather than looking at automation replacing people, consider the economic impact of robots and humans working together as a team to solve problems.

Robots may be better at heavy-lifting and repetitive tasks but they are no match to a human who can draw on experience to make decisions. Robots don’t need to rely on checklists or schedules to ensure they don’t miss a beat. But where robots do fall short is on compassion, negotiation, and the ability to know when to make exceptions. There’s little doubt that together the robot/human team will lead to greater productivity, safety, and quality.

The US has long been known for setting the bar when it comes to innovation and progress. Why put on the brakes now when the stakes are so high and the competition so fierce? It’s only when we, as a nation, are committed to adopting new technologies like robots, that will we’ll start seeing the economy turn around and our global standing rise. Not only will robots make companies more productive and people more valuable, but they will most assuredly help make America competitive again.

Steve Cousins is founder and CEO of Savioke, which develops and deploys autonomous robots that work in human environments to improve people’s lives. Steve was previously president and CEO of robotics incubator Willow Garage.

Savioke Partners with Swisslog to Automate Medication Delivery in Hospitals

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Savioke is expanding into the global hospital market through a new partnership with Swisslog, a leading supplier of solutions for medication and supply chain management in healthcare.  Here is the official announcement:

Swisslog Healthcare Invests in Savioke’s Mobile Robotics Technology

Swisslog-Savioke partnership will bring Relay Autonomous Mobile Robots to healthcare environments.

DENVER, Colo. (August 28, 2017) – Swisslog Healthcare, a leading supplier of solutions for medication and supply chain management in healthcare, announces its investment in Savioke, developer of the Relay autonomous delivery robot, a friendly indoor service robot that works safely, securely and reliably in human environments. This new partnership allows the companies to jointly develop services and solutions that increase health systems’ efficiency and enable them to deliver better patient care.

“Many leading hospitals are providing experience-focused programs that enhance patient satisfaction and improve loyalty and referrals,” notes Stephan Sonderegger, CEO of Swisslog Healthcare. “These ‘concierge’ services are modeled after the hospitality industry where Savioke mobile robots are already commercially deployed in dozens of hotels worldwide. There are clear applications for this technology in healthcare, which we are excited to explore together.” Swisslog sold legacy autonomous mobile robot (AMR) models in healthcare applications for nearly 10 years. The Savioke Relay is a dynamic, low-profile AMR that combines fast, secure delivery with a responsive, friendly human interface for more reliable and personalized patient services.

“Savioke’s Relay Robot has widespread applications in all parts of the healthcare supply chain including securely delivering prescription and over-the-counter medications to nurses and patients in hospitals,” said Steve Cousins, founder and CEO of Savioke. “Our joint partnership with Swisslog, a leader in medication supply chain solutions, will enable Relay to expand these use cases and enter new healthcare-related markets globally.”

The two companies will work closely together to develop new solutions and services that increase the efficiency of the medication supply chain and to enable services that improve patient relationships with health systems. Swisslog Healthcare is Savioke’s exclusive global partner for medication and supply chain management in hospitals and will introduce new solutions and services to the market over the course of the next twelve months.