January 13, 2016      

Savioke Inc., which makes the Relay delivery robot for the hospitality industry, has raised $15 million in Series A funding.

“For decades, robots have been too complex, too expensive, and not safe enough to co-exist in human environments,” said Savioke CEO Steve Cousins in a statement. “Through a combination of advances in robotics software and the drop in costs for robotic hardware and components, those objections have disappeared.”

“The time has finally come when robots are going to be at our beck and call, and for our robots in the hospitality industry, we mean that quite literally,” he said.

Relay is already in use as a service at six hotels in California and has completed more than 12,000 autonomous deliveries since its launch in 2014, according to Santa Clara, Calif.-based Savioke. Toothpaste is the most commonly delivered item.

More on Intel and Savioke:

“Since the introduction of their Relay robot, the team at Savioke has done an exemplary job growing the market for service robotics,” said Wendell Brooks, Intel Capital president. “Intel Capital sees significant opportunity in this important new market, and we’re pleased to invest in Savioke.”

Intel banks on robotics

Intel Corp. expects robots to be a major user of its processors, since the markets for personal computers and smartphones have leveled off.

At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Intel also announced investment in personal transport company Segway Inc., which was bought by rival Ninebot Inc. last year. This brings the valuation of Segway, which demonstrated a vehicle/robot hybrid at the show, to $1 billion.

At CES 2016, Intel also showed off a Yuneec Typhoon H aerial drone whose collision-avoidance systems use its RealSense sensors.

In addition to Intel Capital, other investors in Savioke include Hong Kong-based Northern Light Venture Capital and EDBI, the corporate investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board.

Last fall, Savioke partnered with Singapore’s Hotel Technology Conference to introduce Relay to the Asian hospitality market.

“Singapore’s progressive technology environment, together with our deep talent pool and vibrant ecosystem, is well positioned to accelerate Savioke’s growth plans in Asia with EDBI’s assistance and connections in the region,” said Swee-Yeok Chu, CEO and president of EDBI.

Savioke had previously raised $2.6 million in 2014. The company, which won Best Consumer Solution for Relay at RoboBusiness 2015, is hiring roboticists and engineers.

Venture capital funding for robotics has grown from $193.6 million in 2011 to $922.7 million last year, according to industry observer Travis Deyle.