A Conversation with Founder & CEO Mathan Muthupillai of Techmetics … Leaders in Service Autonomous Robotics
Q: First and foremost, tell us a little about Techmetics?
MM: Techmetics is a service robotics firm committed to providing innovative, end to end robotics solutions across various industries with the first multi-point delivery robots on the market. It has positioned itself as a leading brand in technology distributing to hospitality, healthcare and manufacturing sectors around the world. In March of 2019, our firm launched its first products in the U.S.
Q: How is Techmetics changing the hospitality and healthcare industries with its autonomous robots?
MM: Techmetics aims to eliminate tiring, repeated, unskilled jobs and redefine workflow in hospitality and healthcare industries with the help of our fleet of autonomous mobile robot solutions. In the hospitality and healthcare industries, our robots are taking care of delivery needs starting from small amenities like food, linen and laundry delivery, to large amenities like wastage management delivery with a range of 50 to 500-pound capacity in a single trip. Our company’s vision, in the service sector, is to transfer all labor-intensive jobs to robots to help employees focus on knowledge-based, productive tasks.
Q: There are a variety of service robots out on the market, how does the Techi butler differentiate itself from the competition?
a) Techi robots are multi-point delivery robots – they are the first in the world which can collect items from three different pickup locations and perform up to three separate deliveries in a single trip.
b) Techmetics offers a fleet of robot solutions for a variety of application needs within the hospitality and healthcare industries i.e. butler, back of house linen, food delivery, drink service, concierge and more. There is currently no other company in the world providing such solutions for various applications.
c) Techi robots are highly customizable. For instance, our customers can choose from three types of butler models depending on their payload and volume needs.
d) Techmetics is the only company offering software based, multi-level fleet management solutions for the service industry. For example, our Techi robots are the only robots deployed in a large fleet for the casino industry with more than 20 robots in one facility managed by Techmetics.
With these unique features we are differentiating ourselves as pioneers in the service sector.
Q: As the founder and CEO of Techmetics, why did you choose to go into these industries? How have you been able to determine the most valuable functions for the staff and the companies who use your robots?
MM: Since childhood, I was very interested in the robotics field. I have been participating in technology competitions in this field since I was in the eighth grade. In fact, all my UG and PG projects are in Robotics and the automation field. Naturally, I graduated in Robotics (Mechatronics) and after gaining 10+ years of experience in automation and product development, I founded a company (Techmetics) focusing on robotics.
The most valuable function of our product is to replace mundane tasks that require no skill and increase productivity and gains. Techmetics is also adding numerous new interactive features and capabilities to assists hotel guests in way finding, serving chocolates and water in the lobby and other goods. Many of our clients found this feature is enormously valuable to them.
Q: What was the determining factor in launching a branch in the US? How does the US market differ from the one in Singapore and Europe?
MM: In Asia (Singapore especially), labor cost is $7 per hour. With this, our product is already achieving ROI in a year’s time. In America, labor cost varies from $12 to $20 per hour. Currently, we are seeing 10 times more potential in the American market versus the Asian market, which is why we opened our branch in San Jose, California.
Q: What do you envision for the future of the robotics industry? How does Techmetics plan to impact the future of hospitality and healthcare?
MM: Currently, robots are deployed in the hospitality and healthcare industries as “optional” devices. Since the product is new and awareness of its benefits is yet to be created, the product is treated as “optional.” Within the next five years, we believe service robots will become essential across these industries and expand into others including the office space, multi-unit housing, and assisted living facilities.
This product is same like ATM machines. ATM machines were optional 25 years ago. Now it becomes essential part of banking sector. The future is moving towards that and Techmetics is going to drive that.
Q: What robot do your customers love the most? Is there a new feature or robot launching soon?
MM: All our robots are creating equal traction in various sectors and applications. But our Techi Butlers are always the first choice for hotels considering marketing advantages in addition to productivity gains. Since the product is deployed in a customer facing environment, it’s getting natural traction and our customers love it the most.
Q: At the smart hotel Henn-na Hotel near Nagasaki Japan, you’ll be greeted by a robotic staff that’s said to run 90% of the hotel’s operations. The other 10% is handled by the hotel’s only 10 human employees. Do you see this happening in the states soon?
MM: America is unique and much different from Asia and other parts of the world. I don’t think the same will happen here since the customer experience plays such an important role for consumer satisfaction. Automation of unskilled jobs and some level of customer robotics assistance is definitely going to happen in the hospitality sector but it’s not going to replace entire hotel operations like we are seeing in some of Japan’s hotels. In my opinion, full automation of hotel operations are not going to be successful in the U.S.
Q: I can see in the short term, there shouldn’t be massive layoffs due to AI/Robotics as a company needs to maintain operations. How do you see AI and Robotics creating jobs long-term?
MM: Long term, I see AI and Robotics creating more knowledge-based job opportunities where labor workers will learn new skills to operate and manage automation. Here, the government plays a major role by moving people from the worker economy to a knowledge-based economy.
Q: We’ve overcome some changes in AI already, i.e. with automation at the gas pumps, self-serve in the grocery stores, however, now it’s more widespread. There are Robots replacing everything from workers in the farming industry to bartenders in small towns in Germany … do you think as a society Americans should be better prepared for what’s coming? Does the responsibility fall on our government or our corporate leaders?
MM: Yes, Automation is the future and Americans should prepare for its full arrival. We are moving towards a knowledge-based economy and creating a better society. This is a healthy change, but the responsibility falls on both government and corporate leaders to use technology to help people, create more products to replace labor intensive roles, and regulate all the new technology and the products. Both should take responsibility to achieve these results.
Q: About a year ago, I spoke with a small business owner who owned a hair/nail salon. Her doctor ordered some blood work for her … after having a robot draw her blood, that night she went home did a lot of searching about robots etc. Within two-weeks, she put her salon up for sale, she was frightened about what she read on the possible large displacement of the workforce. This may have been a bit drastic; however, do you think we can expect this type of behavior in the future?
MM: Robots are going to replace many jobs especially “unskilled” jobs in the future, but it is also going to create many more new jobs and fill the need for labor workers. Part of the solution here is to educate the public on the role of robots in the workforce, especially since robots and AI can’t replace human knowledge. With your specific example, instead of closing her salon, this small business owner could implement technology to expand her business in a tech-forward moving world.
Q: Some of the largest companies in the world i.e. IBM, Facebook, Intel along with many, many others are in a race to be leaders in the AI/Robotic world. AI helps people with their finances, it helps lawyers prepare for trial and a lot in between … what suggestions do you have for those young adults graduating from high school and thinking about what type of career they should pursue? What industries, do you feel good paying jobs will be in the future?
MM: I suggest they pursue whatever they are passionate about. “Good paying jobs” are subjective. With my experience in Robotics, I would highly recommend a position in this field, especially because it is one of the future’s emerging fields.
Five Things About Mathan Muthupillai
1. If you could have lunch with someone famous who would it be?
With the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai.
2. What inspires you?
Wherever I see hard work, dedication and humanity.
3. Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Queenstown, New Zealand.
4. Is there an app you can’t live without?
There is nothing like that for me. I can live without a phone!
5. What is one thing you would change in Silicon Valley?
Our objective is to automate the hotels here. We use technology to replace tiring, repeated jobs. It’s already happening in Silicon Valley. We will contribute the same.