Presented by FlightHub

Over the past decade the travel industry has seen waves of technological trends: mobile booking, voice search, augmented reality, and more. The use of robots in travel is one such trend. It’s changing the way people travel and taking the world — literally — by storm.

The potential impact of robots on the tourism and hospitality sector can’t be understated. Chatbots, programmable suitcases, and security bots are a few examples of how robots may be changing the way travelers navigate the globe forever.

FlightHub and JustFly discuss why robots are a technological trend the travel industry should look forward to.

Robotics in travel & tourism 2019-2025

According to Research and Markets, “In 2018 the global robotics market was worth $98 billion, and it will have surpassed $275 billion by 2025. Over the next five years there will be a rapid growth in cloud-based robot services for armies of installed robots and for robots hired on an as-needed basis, especially by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), triggering new demand drivers.

Notable travel and tourism companies already making use of robotics include Royal Caribbean and Expedia. Many more companies are likely to embrace the technology in the coming years as boosts to sagging productivity in services are sought by organizations.”

Travel companies going into the realm of robotics are advised to start small. This allows for better analysis regarding productivity and efficiency. It can also help to avoid unforeseen technological issues. Last but not least, it makes scaling more feasible.

What should a robot look like?

Popular books, movies, and TV shows often depict robots as quasi-human androids. Although some robots look human-like, their appearance largely varies. Some walk, many roll, and others even float. Text or chatbots don’t have a physical form at all.

Once programmed, some robots function autonomously. Still, many robots require more guidance, especially when used with third-party software for voice recognition, accident detection, virtual reality applications, and others.

When combined with artificial intelligence (AI), robots become far more sophisticated. AI’s ability to record and simulate cognitive functions makes transferring more complicated commands to robots possible.

Robots and travel

In many ways, travel and robot technology are a perfect pairing. That may be why robots are quickly gaining traction in the travel sphere. Travelers are becoming comfortable with automated services via online chat, airports, hotels, travel agencies, and more. As the demand for self-service options increase, people can expect to see robots being used to help them travel a little easier.

How robots are being used in travel

Hospitality businesses haven’t hesitated to get behind the robot technology trend. Here are a few examples of the many ways robots are being used in travel:

  1. ForwardX Robotics has apparently launched Ovis, a robotic AI-powered suitcase. They ran a very successful Indiegogo campaign and showcased at CES in both 2020 and 2019, earning a lot of press. According to the company, the suitcase follows its owner independently and is able to detect physical obstacles before colliding with them. ForwardX says that Ovis has the ability to move in many directions, and now travelers can move with their luggage alongside them hands-free. (All that said, we haven’t been able to source where you can actually buy an Ovis suitcase in the U.S. yet.)
  2. Chatbots are important players in the growing robots in travel trend. They use artificial intelligence to walk customers through the booking process. These types of bots also allow companies to offer 24-7 customer service, via a multitude of messaging platforms, with little to no delays. They ask relevant questions and communicate in an easily understandable way.
  3. Security is an often under-appreciated but important part of travel. Robots are now being used to help airport security staff keep travelers safe. These robots are being equipped with hardware and software to detect dangerous hidden items like concealed weapons.

Robots have quickly integrated themselves into the travel world. They’re improving customer service, increasing operational efficiency within travel companies, and making airports safer. Despite the controversial views of some who claim robots will eventually remove the human touch from travel, the positive impact of robots is undeniable.

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