But it can’t take your order.

Panasonic’s indoor delivery robot, HOSPI, will start work on its new job tomorrow, helping guests at a hotel in Japan, where the robot will serve bottled water and announce the bus schedule in the lobby.

The robot will be working at the Crown Plaza Ana Narita Hotel from Saturday (Jan. 14) to Wednesday (Jan. 18). After that, HOSPI will start a new job at the Narita International Airport, the main international airport serving Tokyo, where it will work for five days later this month (Jan. 23-27). There, HOSPI will collect used dishware in the airport lounge.

While these are only demonstrations to show that HOSPI is capable of serving customers in hospitality settings, the robot is actually already in use in hospitals throughout Japan, where it delivers medicines and supplies to patients and hospital staff.

HOSPI operates autonomously and doesn’t require a track or an operator to wheel around the floor, using sensors and collision avoidance technology designed to prevent the hulking robot from crashing into walls or people or getting stuck in a corner.

Just under five feet tall, the robot has a small head on a roving, boxy body with no neck. HOSPI has a screen for a face, where it displays either a simple smile or text, depending on the task at hand.

 Panasonic

Panasonic has been working on HOSPI since 2004, but the robot wasn’t available for sale broadly for hospitals until 2014, according to IEEE Spectrum.

HOSPI is markedly different from other hospitality robots, like SoftBank’s Pepper, which isn’t able to carry things. Instead, Pepper takes a conversational approach, answering customer questions and gesticulating with its animate arms.

Panasonic’s robot, on the other hand, only gives announcements from its speaker system and on its screen-face. Still, it can bring you things and carry your dirty dishes away, which is undeniably useful. HOSPI is more similar to Savioke’s Relay robot, which is designed for delivering items to rooms in hotels. Relay is already at work at dozens of hotels across the United States.

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Author: April Glaser

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