Not far from Apple's corporate campus, a major hotel brand has hired what it calls the industry's first robotic butler, described as Wall-E, Rosie and R2-D2 all rolled into one.
Aloft Hotels, part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts group, will on August 20 be introducing its latest hire, A.L.O., a roving cyber 'Botlr' that acknowledges requests with a few peppy beeps and flashing lights.
Its main role will be to deliver amenities to guest rooms, says Starwood, in the aim of freeing up the hotel staff -- the human variety -- to carry out other tasks.
But it's also a marketing strategy aimed at appealing to the brand's main target demographic -- tech-savvy millennial travelers -- who are invited to 'tip' the robot bellhop with tweets that compliment its service.
"As soon as A.L.O. entered the room, we knew it was what we were looking for," said global brand leader Brian McGuinness in a cheeky statement.
"A.L.O. has the work ethic of Wall-E, the humor of Rosie from The Jetsons and reminds me of my favorite childhood robot, R2-D2."
Despite being a robot, it may be hard to resist the urge to give it a friendly pet with its chirpy beeps, little black bow tie and requests for approbation.
It's only fitting that the droid butler be introduced at the brand's Cupertino location, steps from the brain center of tech giant Apple. The hotel is outfitted heavily with Apple products: All 123 rooms are equipped with Apple TVs that can sync with guests' iOS devices and personal iTunes accounts.
Botlr is one of several tech-heavy services at Aloft. For the growing segment of independent or 'invisible' travelers, a Cool Concierge is also available, allowing guests to look up information like directions and flight status on a tablet-based computer system without the help of hotel staff -- yet another move signaling the shift towards increasingly automated services in the hotel industry.