The rise of Service robots: What you need to know

July 13, 2023
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What are Service robots and how do they work?

Service robots are automated machines designed to assist humans by performing useful tasks. They operate autonomously through an inbuilt control system that can often be manually overridden. These robots can enhance customer experiences in places like hotels, hospitals, and restaurants by providing wayfinding assistance or answering basic questions.

  • What can they do? Service robots are capable of handling repetitive, mundane chores as well as jobs that are dirty, dull, or dangerous. They can vacuum your floors, mop your bathrooms, clean swimming pools, fetch and carry heavy loads, and more. Some Service robots act as shopping assistants, tour guides, or concierges. The potential applications are vast.
  • How do they work? Service robots contain mechanical components like grippers (the “hands” of a robot) which are powered by motors and actuators. They can also come with built-in sensors, cameras, and navigation systems to detect obstacles and navigate autonomously. Many run on rechargeable batteries, while others plug into standard power outlets when not in use. They may stand in a fixed position, like a dishwashing robot arm, or they may move around either freely on wheels or on a fixed gantry track. The robots are programmed with specialized software and artificial intelligence that allows them to understand commands and operate independently of humans.
  • Are they ready for mainstream use? Service robots show a lot of promise, but most are still in the trial or prototyping stage. As technology continues to advance, Service robots are becoming more capable, affordable, and ready for large-scale deployment. Widespread adoption may still be a few years away, but these robots could transform many industries and make a big impact on our daily lives.

The top 5 areas where Service robots are making an impact

Service robots are revolutionizing many industries, and you'll likely encounter them more and more in your everyday life. Here are the top 5 areas where these bots are making a big impact:

  • Hospitals and healthcare. Service robots can alleviate the workload of first responders while keeping them safe from viral infections or protecting patients from germ transfer. They can also execute delicate procedures that not many medical staff have the skills or stamina to perform repeatedly, such as surgeries.
  • Hotels and restaurants. Service robots in hospitality establishments can help cut labor costs and increase efficiency. They can deliver room service, clean common areas, check guests in and out, and handle basic inquiries at the front desk. Some restaurants are even testing food delivery bots and automated bartenders.
  • Retail stores. Retailers are deploying Service robots as shopping assistants to help customers find products, handle returns and exchanges, stock shelves, and more. This allows human employees to focus on providing great customer service.
  • Airports. Service robots at airports can help passengers by providing information on flight arrivals and departures, directing travelers to their gates, handling baggage, and even cleaning terminal floors.
  • Homes. In the future, personal Service robots may become more common in homes. They could assist with chores like cleaning, laundry, yard work, and home maintenance. Some models are already able to control smart home devices, play music, set alarms, and provide companionship.

Are Service robots ready for widespread adoption?

The time is almost here

With the advent of AI and rapid advancements in computer vision and robotics in recent years, Service robots are getting closer to mainstream adoption, but we’re not quite there yet. While the technology powering them is rapidly advancing, some key factors still need improvement before they’re truly ready to roll out on a large scale:

  • Technology readiness. Although Service robots can perform an array of tasks, their capabilities are still quite narrow. They struggle with complex, unstructured environments and nuanced social interactions which we humans take for granted. Many functions still require human oversight and intervention. As AI and robotics continue to progress, Service robots will become far more autonomous, dexterous and socially adept.
  • Cost and ROI. Although prices have dropped substantially, Service robots remain a significant investment. For widespread adoption, costs must decrease further and benefits must clearly outweigh costs. As technology improves and production scales up, Service robots will become more affordable and offer a strong return on investment through increased productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
  • Social acceptance. Many people are open to the idea of Service robots but still prefer human contact for hospitality and personal services. Trust in the technology needs to grow, and interactions with Service robots should feel as natural as possible. With increased exposure and familiarity over time, comfort levels will rise. As people experience the benefits of service robots firsthand, acceptance and demand will accelerate.
  • Regulations. Strict safety, privacy and ethical regulations will need to be put in place as Service robots become more advanced and autonomous. Comprehensive laws and policies will help address risks, build trust in the technology and facilitate mainstream adoption. Regulation will likely progress hand-in-hand with technological and social readiness.

While Service robots show a lot of promise, more work is needed before they’re poised to sweep through hotels, restaurants, stores and homes. But progress is steady, and widespread adoption of robotic services may be just around the corner. 

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The future of Service robots: What's on the horizon?

As technology improves, prices drop, and adoption increases, service bots will become commonplace in homes and businesses. Here's a glimpse of what's on the horizon:

Smarter and more capable

Service robots will get smarter, and faster, and handle more complex tasks. Improvements in AI, machine learning, and computing power will enable bots to understand natural language better, navigate more dynamically, and complete jobs requiring problem-solving skills. Imagine a robot that can not only vacuum and mop but also put away the dishes, take out the trash, and handle minor home repairs it spots along the way.


Some service bots will become highly specialized. For example, robots may be designed specifically for hospitality, healthcare, education, or agriculture. Specialized bots can be optimized for their environment and purpose to enable rapid automation of tasks. Hospitality bots might deliver room service, healthcare bots could transport medicine, and education bots might help students learn at their own pace.

Cost and adoption

As technology improves and adoption increases, the cost of service robots will decrease significantly. More affordable pricing will drive higher demand and market penetration into homes and businesses. Widespread use will almost certainly make some existing jobs obsolete while creating new jobs in robotics, operation and AI.


Future service robots will collaboratively work alongside humans. Rather than replacing workers, bots will augment and enhance human capabilities. Service robots and people will cooperate and share responsibilities, with each playing to their strengths. For example, robots handle routine tasks while humans focus on more complex work requiring emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and creativity.

FAQs about Service robots

What exactly are Service robots?

Service robots are automated machines designed to assist humans by performing useful tasks. They come in all shapes and sizes, from robot vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers to robot waiters and hotel staff. Some service robots operate autonomously, while others are remotely controlled or work cooperatively with humans.

What can Service robots do?

Service robots are capable of handling many routine and repetitive jobs that are tedious or even dangerous for humans to perform. They can:

  • Clean and mop floors, vacuum carpets, mow lawns and do gardening.
  • Deliver packages, luggage, linens, and medical supplies in hospitals and hotels.
  • Provide concierge and check-in services at hotels and airports.
  • Serve food and drinks in restaurants, cafes and assisted living facilities.
  • Disinfect and sanitize spaces using UV light to kill bacteria and viruses.
  • Monitor patients and dispense medication in hospitals and care facilities.

Are Service robots ready for mainstream adoption?

Service robots show a lot of promise, but they are not quite ready for large-scale deployment and mainstream use in most areas. Some key reasons for this include:

  • Cost: Although prices are declining, service robots are still quite expensive to purchase and operate. They may not provide a strong enough return on investment for many businesses.
  • Technical limitations: Service robots have limited mobility, dexterity and situational awareness. They struggle with complex, unstructured environments and unpredictable tasks.
  • Safety concerns: There are risks of service robots malfunctioning, colliding with people or objects, or improperly handling sensitive equipment, food, medicines, etc. Rigorous testing and fail-safes are still needed.
  • Job disruption: The increasing use of service robots may significantly impact many jobs currently performed by humans. This could be a barrier to adoption and lead to resistance.
  • Lack of standards: There are no widely accepted standards around the design, functionality, safety, and interoperability of service robots. This makes it difficult to integrate them into existing operations.

Overall, Service robots show tremendous promise to improve productivity, reduce costs, and enhance quality of life. But more progress is still needed on the technical, operational and social fronts before they become commonplace in homes and public spaces. The future is coming faster than you think, but service robots may not be ready for the mainstream quite yet.

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