2011 Innovators: Yobot, Robotic Luggage Concierge, Yotel

When Yotel New York opened in June, it came armed with an innovative solution to storing luggage. CEO Gerard Greene wanted to replace a boring administrative task with technology. Enter Yobot, a robotic concierge that uses its articulated arm to pick up and store guests’ luggage in one of 117 lockers.

The new system builds on the Yotel brand’s existing high-tech features, like its fully automated guest check-in/check-out at airport-style, self-service kiosks.

Housed behind a glass enclosure in the lobby, Yobot is a type of robot that would typically be found in industrial settings, performing such tasks as material handling or spot welding.

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In the hotel setting, Yotel guests enter a user name and PIN on an intuitive and interactive flat-panel touch screen, and place their bags on a locker insert bin presented by the Yobot via a fork-like attachment at the end of the robot arm. The Yobot then inserts the bin into a dedicated locker slot and a bar code receipt is issued to the guest for subsequent retrieval. The Yobot can complete a storage or retrieval operation in 30 seconds or less.

“Yobot provides secure, fully automated luggage storage 24 hours a day in a unique and entertaining way that is consistent with the Yotel experience,” says Yotel Marketing Director Jo Berrington. “A nod to the future and a reflection of the innovative Yotel brand, Yobot has become a celebrity in its own right. It adds a fun element to the initial guest experience and, of course, helps to free up our crew to provide their usual professional, warm and friendly welcome.”

MFG Automation, which specializes in the development of engineered robotic systems for manufacturing and ABB robotic products exclusively, designed and installed the Yobot system.