We all know that in the future many to most jobs will be replaced by robots. The question remains, when we will get to that point? How soon will it happen?
Most people underestimate the potential of technology and think that they would be secure through their lifetime – the development says otherwise, and to make matters worse, COVID has tremendously sped up this transition. By how much? According to McKinsey, COVID has accelerated technology in their internal operation by at least 3-4 years and digital products in their portfolio by 7 years! This means the era of widespread hospitality robots and universal basic incomes may be much closer than we think.
Below are some flagship robots in the hospitality industry that could be mainstream soon. I have categorized these robots into 4 categories based on their use case.
The number of concierge robots in hotels is increasing rapidly. Big hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton, and others are partnering with Alibaba and IBM to create robots that will one day replace all the staff in a hotel. Humanoid robots are taking over the reception of hotels to make the experience more comfortable for guests.
Some local hotels like Henn’ Na in Tokyo are already completely maintained by robots! In Henn’ Na robots make food, clean rooms, welcome you to the room, and even the fishes in the aquarium are robots.
Alibaba is also experimenting with robots in its own hotel called Fly Zoo hotel which has minimal staff that takes care of tasks that are not yet perfected by the robots.
Sanitization is probably the most important and job-intensive aspect of hospitality since it’s necessary for any physical space. More than anything else, COVID has shot up the demand for sanitary robots in public places such as hospitals, airports, and education centers. According to Brian Corps, a leading firm in robotics announced that in just 1 year (Oct 2020-Oct 2021), usage of robots increased by 2500% in healthcare and by 426% in education.
These robots include floor cleaning robots by BrainCorps and those that can clean the whole room, like Somatic.
Remember the last time you contacted customer service. How was the experience? You might not have realized it but the person on the other side was probably not human. It is getting very common to have chatbots or voice bots as customer service staff. Because of the great resignation and COVID, the demand for customer service has increased since more things are getting digitized, and at the same time, the labor force with this skill set is reducing.
Products such as Alpha Chat, Twilio Autopilot, IBM Watson, and Amazon Bot Services are taking over. These bots are used by hotels for room service, businesses to attend to customers, online services, airlines, etc.
This category of robots specializes in the movement of goods. It can be anything from serving food in restaurants to managing a whole warehouse. In the hospitality industry, these robots save guests from having awkward conversations with waiters and make a restaurant more unique. In warehouses, these robots can work 24/7, deal with heavy loads, get rid of human errors, and increase overall efficiency.
Companies like Pudu Robotics, 1st Century Robots, and Paalia have food serving robots and Yanu has developed a robotic bartender. Dominos is testing autonomous delivery robots, and Amazon’s warehouse is mostly operated by robots.
What Does This Mean For The Labor Market?
It is very hard for a society to go back to an old technology from a new technology, imagine using stone weapons when you could use a gun. Technology generally only moves forward. Thus the jobs of the future are going to be very different from what they are today. According to WEF, automation would take away 85 million jobs by 2025 and we are not going back.
The robots of today still require some human intervention to do tasks or require management but this will drastically change due to innovation in computer vision, text-to-speech, and mobility. So, it would could be occupational suicide to prepare for not so creative jobs. If you are involved in a repetitive job, it may be a good idea to develop other skill-sets or consider learning how to operate a robot that can do your job.