Rice Robotics Introduces 'Friendly' AI Bots to the Service Sector in Hong Kong and Japan
Updated: Dec 18, 2023
Hong Kong-based start-up Rice Robotics is making waves in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) with its friendly-looking autonomous robots.
The company has already deployed hundreds of these puppy-eyed robots in Japan and Hong Kong and recently announced their presence in Hong Kong's iconic Citic Tower skyscraper.
Priced at $10,000 each, these robots have been integrated into the building's management system, allowing them to freely navigate the premises using lifts.
While the primary focus of these cute bots is disinfecting the 33-story building, they are also capable of performing other tasks such as deliveries, security patrols and chat-based concierge services. Rice Robotics' deployment in Citic Tower marks their first venture into a commercial building in Hong Kong, contributing to the city's growing automation trend.
Founder and CEO of Rice Robotics, Victor Lee Kwok Hong, explains that the company has primarily targeted the Japanese market due to the faster adoption of automation and AI robots in the country. Japan's ageing demographics and labour shortages have driven the demand for automation, with service companies increasingly turning to robots. According to the International Federation of Robots, the number of service robots sold for professional use in 2022 reached 158,000 units, a 48% increase from the previous year.
Rice Robotics' success in Japan is attributed to the friendly design of their robots, tailored to Japanese consumer sensibilities. Lee emphasises the importance of incorporating a human factor into the design, making the user experience as natural as possible. The company aims to educate people about the capabilities of robots and demonstrate that they can be friendly and helpful.
While Hong Kong has also faced labour shortages, the city's focus has been on human-enhancement rather than replacing workers with automation. As a result, the adoption of robots in Hong Kong is expected to be slower compared to Japan. However, Rice Robotics believes that their success in Japan will transfer to Hong Kong and they are planning to enter new markets by the end of next year.
Rice Robotics has deployed friendly AI bots in Hong Kong's Citic Tower skyscraper.
The company has gained traction in the Japanese market due to labour shortages and ageing demographics.
The robots can perform tasks such as disinfection, deliveries, security patrols and concierge services.