Comments by Dmitry Shepelev, commercial director of management company Uma Capital.

Decision

One of our company’s priorities is to use new technologies to improve quality of services. Therefore, it was logical to embed the robot in one of our business centers called Central City Tower.

The main tasks of our robot are to issue passes to guests and gives information about the business center. For example, it can inform about available spaces for rental.

We studied Promobot’s competitors and decided to work with this company because of convenience. By that we mean cost, cooperation with managers and work with technical support. It was important for us that at the time of purchase Promobot was cooperating with customers from 26 countries. (that number increased to 37 now). 

Functionality

Central City Tower reception staff was responsible for issuing passes before Promobot appeared. Two employees were working in the building. Passes must be issued to all visitors: guests, tenants, couriers, etc. Robot scans passport and issues a pass if it was ordered earlier. If this hadn’t been done, the robot will directly send a request to the secretary with the visitor’s data and ask whether to issue a pass or not.

The robot has been operating for only two months. Analytics show that it has issued about 15% of the total number of passes in the first month. The number rose to 20% in the second month.  A positive trend is very easy to see. While we still have employees at the reception, we are looking to increase the proportion of passes issued by the robot to 50% in the near future.

These may not be the numbers we expected immediately. The period of adjustment to the robot is about 3 months and it caused some difficulties. Not everybody is ready to interact with the robot: even if the reception staff directs visitors to the robot, some ask the employee to issue a pass anyway. Young people go to the robot directly, especially on their second visit. They already know how to operate with the robot and how to scan the document. Questions arise only on first visit. 

During rush hours our employees helped people interact with the robot. This measure was necessary to minimize the queue and make visitors feel comfortable. Besides it was important to monitor the presence of passes inside the robot. The robot is not yet able to create access cards without human help.

Our management company is called Uma Capital, so we gave our robot a very affectionate nickname Umka.

Reaction

Tenants responded to the robot’s activity in different ways. Some of them did not integrate with Promobot due to strict security system requirements. However, the majority appreciated the new addition. We had master classes for business center employees so that they could interact well with the robot.

Children get excited when they see the robot. They start communicating with Umka almost instantly. Guests of our restaurant, which is located on the first floor of the building, react the same way. Although they don’t need passes, restaurant guests gladly come up to the robot and interact with it. Umka makes visitors hearts melt because of how politely it addresses every stranger by calling it “dear”.

Stories

One time Promobot decided to take a little walk so it went to the glass revolving door. The guards noticed the escape attempt and got afraid that the robot might not pay attention to the glass door. Nothing’s been damaged because robot’s obstacle detection sensors reacted perfectly.

Once broadcast journalist came to video shoot our robot for a story about robotics. Reporters asked him about their TV company and Promobot began to tell legal information, such as founding members, the company’s revenues, ratings, and other not-so-obvious facts. Interestingly, the journalists themselves have learned a lot as they didn’t know some of that information before.

Future

Robot can entertain visitors, for example tell stories, sing, dance and make presentations but we don’t want Umka to perform. We rent another Promobot for these purposes to our events, so that Umka could continue to do its job of issuing passes.

I am sure that over time we will set more tasks for our robots. Perhaps we haven’t quite understood all of the robot’s features yet but our company is open to developers’ new ideas.

For now, we want to achieve 100% automation of one of the primary functions in our building, which is issuing passes.

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