Robots Take look inside Alibaba’s high-tech ‘hotel of the future,’ which is run almost entirely by robots (BABA)

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Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


  • Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce conglomerate, opened a high-tech “hotel of the future” in Hangzhou, China, earlier this year. 
  • The hotel allows guests to manage reservations and make payments entirely from a mobile app and enter rooms using facial-recognition technology rather than a traditional key card. 
  • Robots created by Alibaba’s AI Labs serve food, toiletries, and other sundries. Here’s a closer look at what the experience is like. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Alibaba Group is vying to create the hotel of the future. 

Earlier this year, the e-commerce giant opened its FlyZoo Hotel, which it describes as a “290-room ultra-modern boutique, where technology meets hospitality.” The hotel is the first of its kind in that it eschews traditional check-in and key card processes, instead allowing guests to manage reservations and make payments entirely from a mobile app, sign in using self-service kiosks, and enter their rooms using facial-recognition technology.

Additionally, the hotel is run almost entirely by robots that serve food and fetch toiletries and other sundries as needed. 

The hotel was developed by the company’s online travel platform, Fliggy, in tandem with Alibaba’s AI Labs and Alibaba Cloud technology with the goal “to leverage cutting-edge tech to help transform the hospitality industry, one that keeps the sector current with the digital era we’re living in,” according to the company. 

Read more: Alibaba cofounder Jack Ma — the richest person in China — is retiring with a net worth of $38 billion. Here’s his incredible rags-to-riches story.

“As smart technology is reshaping industries, the FlyZoo Hotel represents Alibaba’s endeavor to marry hospitality with technology, and ultimately inspire and empower the tourism industry to embrace innovation,” Andy Wang, CEO of Alibaba Future Hotel, the group operating the hotel, said in a press statement. 

Here’s a closer look at what it’s like inside: 

Robots The FlyZoo Hotel is located in Hangzhou, China.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots The design is sleek and contemporary, to appeal to modern international travelers.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots FlyZoo has 290 rooms in total, as well as various amenities like a robot-operated restaurant and high-tech gym.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots The hotel project was led by the company’s online travel platform, Fliggy, in tandem with Alibaba’s AI Labs and Alibaba Cloud.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots Chinese users with the FlyZoo app are able to book rooms directly from their phone, where they can choose their floor and the direction the room faces.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots The app also provides virtual tours of each of the rooms before users make their final selection.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots Once a guest arrives at the hotel, they can check in on the mobile app and go directly to their room.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots Users can access the app and check in on their phone using facial-recognition technology.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots Travelers from outside of China who don’t have access to the mobile app can check in with their passport at one of several kiosks located in the lobby.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots Here, Tom Brennan — managing editor of Alizila, the news hub of Alibaba Group — demonstrates how to use the self-service kiosk.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots Instead of traditional keycards, FlyZoo uses facial-recognition technology based on images taken during the check-in process.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots By merely looking into a screen, visitors can access elevators and enter their room, without swiping a physical card.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots This is what the interior of an average room looks like.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots Each room includes a “Tmail Genie” — essentially Alibaba’s version of Amazon Echo — which can help with tasks like adjusting the room temperature, closing the curtains, and turning the lights and television on and off.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots Using voice commands, the device can answer general questions about the WiFi or the weather, as well as communicate requests for items like snacks with the “robot butler.”

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots The robot butler was created by Alibaba’s AI Lab and can make food and toiletry deliveries directly to rooms and at the hotel’s restaurant.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots Once a request is made, the robot makes its way to the room. Here, a robot is seen boarding an elevator.

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Robots Almost there.

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Robots Ah, there it is.

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Robots To unlock the items, the guest inputs a passcode sent via text.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


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Robots It’s an extremely high-tech way to stay hydrated.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


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Robots Another Alibaba robot is seen on the prowl.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots The robots also serve meals in the hotel restaurant.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots The hotel includes amenities like a gym with “fun digital experiences” and interactive screens with guided workouts.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots Brennan demonstrates what it’s like to use one of the interactive digital fitness activities.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


Robots For check-out, guests can simply pack up and go by their designated time.

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Alibaba


Robots Though the hotel is almost entirely run by robots, there are a few employees on staff to assist as needed.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


“Our use of intelligent facilities coupled with digital management and operational systems means that hotel employees can focus on providing guests with a level of service that goes the extra mile,”  Andy Wang, CEO of Alibaba Future Hotel, said in a press statement. 

Robots Only time will tell if the FlyZoo Hotel model will truly become the hotel of the future.

Robots Alibaba Hotel


Alibaba


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Robots How Porsche makes the 2020 Taycan, its first all-electric car

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Following is a transcript of the video.

This is Porsche’s first all-electric vehicle, the Taycan. It’s unmistakably Porsche. Aluminum and steel shaped into the downward-sloping roofline and pronounced shoulders of the wings that are the manufacturer’s signature. But under the bodywork, there’s a new element: an electric heart.

For Porsche to strike a balance between electric efficiency and performance, they wielded unique manufacturing techniques and components, like a battery case fully integrated into the structure of the car and two electric machines, one on each axle to power the front and rear wheels, making the Taycan all-wheel drive. This is how the Porsche Taycan is made.

This is the body shop. Inside, machines perform an intricate dance choreographed by humans to mate the all-aluminum outer shell to the Taycan’s body. The Taycan’s body as you see it mainly consists of steel and aluminum. Here, robots attach the side panel to the body. The panel is entirely one piece. A robot applies adhesive bonding to the inside of the side panel. Another maneuvers the side panel to the body, pressing the panel in place. Robots secure the panel in place with a variety of welding techniques. They also use rivets to further secure the panel. The final welds are made before the Taycan moves down the line to be prepared for paint. Inspecting the Taycan bodywork takes a human touch. Staff buff the outer shell while eyeing the car body for inconsistencies. The body is now ready for paint.

The Taycan arrives upstairs at the process areas. Here, the dipping baths await. The Taycan plunges into a bath of water-based, electrically conductive paint. It receives exposure to an electrical field, causing the paint to deposit on the body. Further down the line, the Taycan will reach the body dryer, where Porsche subjects it to direct heating. Firing the paint forms a highly uniform, closed paint surface. This electromagnetic paint method is called cathodic dip painting, or CDP, and it’s highly resistant to corrosion. Before the Taycan moves on to the next step, robots buff the body. Next, the Taycan arrives at the paint booths. Here, robots evenly apply multiple coats of paint, giving the Taycan a finish that protects and beautifies. Multiple coats of paint are applied. The car moves downstairs to the manual work stations, where employees carefully check the paint for imperfections. We’ll see the painted Taycan bodies again soon, but, for now, on to component manufacturing.

We’ve arrived at the plant Porsche uses to produce electric motors and components. A special feature of the Taycan’s electric motors is the hairpin winding. In this process, the solenoid coils of the stator consist of rectangular wires instead of round ones. The manufacturing process of hairpin technology is complex, but, simply put, it allows the wires to be packed more densely. This means that, in the same amount of space of a conventional stator, Porsche engineers were able to squeeze out more power and torque. Other components are assembled here, including the gears and axles. Together, these make the drive units of the Taycan. The components are sent to final assembly, where they will finally be put together.

Painted bodies, electric drives, and components find their way to the production space for final assembly. At this part of the manufacturing process, ergonomics is key. Hydraulic arms and lifts tilt, raise, and pivot the Taycan into place so employees can easily access their workspace. A hydraulic arm helps navigate a heavy dash into place at the front of the Taycan. Assembly uses a similar system to introduce seats to their new homes. The Taycan Turbo S and Taycan Turbo have two electric motors, one on the front axle and one on the rear axle, thus making the cars all-wheel drive. Here, employees assemble both axles. A panoramic glass roof is moved into position. Porsche makes use of AGVs, or automated guided vehicles, to move the car to different sections of the floor. A floor-transport system is used to move the battery to the underside of the body. The low position of the battery in the car ensures a very low center of gravity. The team attaches the housing to the body using a total of 28 bolts. The team applies Porsche’s signature badge.

The Taycan is complete.

Robots ‘Galactic Builders’ brings students, robotics and ‘Star Wars’ droids together

Robots (CNN)In the first trailer for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the ninth installment in the saga, a new hairdryer-esque droid named D-O can be seen next to fan favorite droid BB-8. And the diminutive droid is a feat of engineering, even in toy form.
Two s…