Briefing: Alibaba opens hotel to show off its AI and robots

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Alibaba Opens Hotel to Showcase New Tech – Yicai Global

What happened: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has opened a hotel in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou to showcase its latest technologies, including mobile payments, artificial intelligence, and service robots. Guests can use self-service terminals to check into the hotel, dubbed Flyzoo, and are able to control the lights, TV, and curtains in hotel rooms via voice commands. In addition, room service is delivered by service robots.

Why it’s important: The company has turned to AI and robots to reduce costs. Other hotels have tried and failed to automate their services using robots. Recently, the world’s first hotel manned by robots said it was “laying off” more than half of its robotic staff. Representatives from the hotel said the robots just weren’t reliable enough and often needed human intervention. Alibaba showed off its services robots at its Computing Conference last year. The company said at the time they would have applications in hotels and hospitals.