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‘Be a darling and ring for the robot butler would you…’


The Relay butler robot has won the 13th Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation Award (IERA).

The service robot, which can make deliveries all on its own in for example hotels, hospitals or logistics centers, is made by American company Savioke.

By using AI and senor technology, it moves safely through public spaces and navigates around people and obstacles as necessary.

Measuring just under three feet tall, and 18-inches round, Relay communicates with its surroundings via touchscreen, smart phone and sounds. And in case anyone gets freaked out, its equipped with friendly, easy to understand facial expressions, such as, ‘where is my tip?’.

For over three years now Relay units have been working in the hotel industry and the second stage of deployment has been apartment and industrial buildings.

To date, Savioke robots have already completed over 100,000 deliveries in the United States, Asia and the Middle East. And it looks Relay is to come to Germany and France in the near future.

President of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) Joe Gemma said: “The IERA Award is one of the most important distinctions in the world of robotics today. This year’s award winner, Relay, perfectly exemplifies how research and development can successfully work hand in hand with industry.”

Vice President of the IEEE-RAS Erwin Prassler said: “This year once again, we received a large number of truly exceptional applications. In the end, the jury was unanimous in its decision. This award is a testament to the excellent work by California-based Savioke led by its CEO, Steve Cousins. Steve Cousins and Savioke have developed the core technology in professional service robotics to a readiness level which enables a 24/7 operation in public, human inhabited environments.”

CEO of Savioke Steve Cousins (pictured above, with Relay) said: “Relay is the first fully autonomous delivery robot worldwide that is able to navigate safely through human-occupied spaces. Up until now, similar technologies have been limited to fixed routes, or deployed only in closely defined spaces. Our highest aim is always to create robots that can help people. The interaction should be as friendly and pleasant as possible.”

The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE/RAS) jointly sponsor the annual IERA award.