OMG! Robots In Casinos?

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In 2012, I wrote a Gaming & Leisure article about my casino visit in the year 2025. There were a number of cool things that I spoke about in the future, but I had no idea that I would write to you now specifically speaking of a technology that is currently available for casinos (and 10 years prior to my prediction). Robotics is sort of a taboo area since people are both interested and concerned when it comes to robots. The fact of the matter is that robots will be present in our lives no matter what our current perceptions are. The advancements in technology are happening at such a rapid pace that it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without robots in it.

Personally, I can’t wait to buy a robotic housekeeper. I will opt for the one that cooks meals, gets the kids ready for school, helps them with their homework and does the yard work, as well.

As we all know, the casino world has a made significant investments in surveillance and large security teams. This is expensive, very hard to manage and often insufficient in helping the casino operation stay safe and protected from legal issues. What the future holds for us is automating these operations. Inevitably, these machines will be coming to a casino or hotel near you – it’s simply a matter of time.

R2D2 is adorable

Most of the robots being offered today are a cross between cute and intimidating. This is probably a good thing since most operators will probably want to deploy robots that are approachable – especially for customer-facing activities, while simultaneously acting as a deterrent for criminal activity. Operators will also want robots that match their aesthetics, branding and possibly wear uniforms that match the rest of the staff/team. The bottom line is that they will need to fit in with their respective environments.

Danger, Will Robinson… Danger!

When we think of robots, we usually think of the hardware and what they will look like, but there is so much more to a robot such as vision, machine learning, artificial intelligence and energy sources. A good robot is autonomous, has the ability to roam freely, recognize people and objects and learn about its environment. The one key thing that a good casino robot should be able to do is identify problems. Here are a few of the problems that today’s casino/hospitality robots can do:

• With onboard FLIR cameras, they can sense heat and alert operators about fires or hotspots.

• They can roam through parking lots and garages to see if children or pets were left in vehicles on a hot day.

• Robots can monitor for suspicious human behavior such as a person ducking down between cars, or hiding behind a bush or wall. The robot can engage with suspicious people in a non-threatening way by verbally engaging with them. A few examples of these engagements could be, “Excuse me, sir. I see that you are ducking down. Are you in pain? Can I call for help for you?” If the robot sees a human lying on the ground, they can quickly call EMS to respond to the situation.

“Mommy, Look I’ve Got Blings” (From Chappie the movie)

As mentioned earlier, the robots that casino operators purchase will be multi-taskers. They will serve as team members to augment the security force. They will have onboard cameras to add mobile viewing capabilities for surveillance, and they will provide some of the best customer service experiences. Here are some more examples of what these robots are capable of in other roles:

Surveillance:

• Listen and point – if the robot hears some thing, it also knows which direction the sound is coming from and can focus its cameras to that spot

• Record onboard to its own storage as well as sync video with the master Network Video Recorders on property

• Surveillance operators can take remote control of the robots when there are issues or if they are in a remote location Customer Service:

• Greet people as they arrive on property and give them directions via onboard way-finder

• Serve drinks to people playing slots

• Make deliveries for departments that are short-handed

• Tell jokes, play games and print coupons Security:

• Fill in for human guards when they go on breaks

• Work 18 hours straight without a break or complaining (recharge in 4 hours)

• Work big events – removing the need to hire more temp employees

• Deter criminal activity by providing a security presence in areas not frequently monitored (or eliminating blind spots)

• Save hundreds of thousands of dollars for operators per year

The images below are of the IRIS robot, created by NXTRobotics.com. They are the pioneers on the forefront of security robots in hospitality.

Now that you can see the robot of the future is here now, what will you do? You will be running into one of them sooner than you think and I believe your experience will be great. These are not Terminators – they are friendly robots who do the tedious things we need them to do. They don’t have personalities or feelings, they are just machines that make life a bit easier like a car or an automatic dishwasher.

Christopher Swanger is a technology veteran in the gaming industry and has worked both as a vendor and an operator. He is a Go-To- Market expert who helps companies establish relevance and value within the gaming and hospitality sector. As a proponent for innovation, Chris writes for Gaming & Leisure® Magazine to help tell the stories that his technology partners and colleagues deem important to the betterment of the gaming industry. More about Chris at http://www.ChristopherSwanger.com.

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