From Rosie to Relay: Where Robots Fit In The Workplace

If The Jetsons were as familiar a part of your childhood as they were of ours, perhaps you, too grew up believing that a robot maid - your very own Rosie - was the way of the future. Perhaps you dreamed of eschewing your chores in favor of more leisure time while Rosie tidied up your room, completed your homework and prepared dinner. 

As you entered adulthood, perhaps you clung to some of this hope - can we get a robot that takes care of junk mail and allows us to be in two places at once, please? - but you also came to more fully appreciate the value of human connection and the difference that a personal touch can make in an otherwise sterile corporate transaction. Perhaps as more and more jobs seemed to get more and more automated, you started to wonder if Rosie might have been an ominous precursor to the end of humanity in the workplace.

Fortunately, our humanity is strong, even though sometimes technology deployments fail. Last year three restaurants in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou attempted to replace their waitstaff with robots, a bold move that attempted to replace an autonomous, customer facing position with artificial intelligence that has typically been best utilized for repetitive tasks in manufacturing. The result? After a year, two of the restaurants have closed their doors and the third has sent all but one of the robotic waiters back, determining that even a task as simple as pouring water requires a human touch to be done well. The devil is in the details with any technology adoption. Word processors were clearly a "win" over typewriters, even if giving people thousands of fonts leads to some really ugly documents.

We’re not surprised by that outcome here at Savioke. Sure, we make robots, but we believe that robots are best used to augment the limitless capabilities of the human spirit, not replace them. Relay, the robot we built to relay items from point A to point B, has been deployed in the hospitality industry as an effective way to deliver items to guests with minimal disruption to their stay, allowing hotel staff to remain fully engaged in the more impactful touchpoints of the guest experience. Relay empowers the well trained and highly effective staff of world class hospitality institutions, it doesn’t compete with them.

We’re a team of real people who believe that we can make the human experience more efficient, more convenient, and more revolutionary through the robots we build. We’re not interested in removing the humanity from the shared experience of working together, creating together, and serving each other; we’re interested in freeing people up to be the best versions of themselves possible. And we’re not too proud to ask Rosie to clean up after us sometimes.