COVID-19: Robots in Johannesburg hotel serve customers with symptoms

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A hotel in Johannesburg has introduced robot staff and says they could be used to serve customers with COVID symptoms.

Robots Lexi, Micah and Ariel have been introduced at Hotel Sky in Johannesburg's wealthy Sandton district.

The trio can deliver room service, provide travel information and can drag up to 300kg of luggage from the marble-floored lobby to the rooms.

If the hotel receives a guest with COVID-19 symptoms, the robots could be deployed instead of people as a precaution.

Otherwise, "guests can choose whether they want to interact with staff members or make use of the self-service, which is all controlled by their phone," Herman Brits, the hotel's general manager, said.

Several robot-staffed Tokyo hotels are now using them to serve guests with mild COVID-19 symptoms.

But Hotel Sky is the first in Africa to introduce automated helpers.

Steve Pinto, chief executive of CTRL Robotics, which supplies the droids, said they could also scan customers' facial expressions to determine how happy they were.

"It helps management to understand how customers are experiencing the facilities at the hotel," he told Reuters, after getting an orange and white painted robot to take a selfie.