October 23, 2020

Tourism robot launches to provide instant virtual travel amid lockdown

By Lucy Ingham

Startup Propelmee has today launched the public beta of its tourism robot platform Challau, which enables users to virtually visit travel destinations.

Users can access one of a number of robots via Challau’s web-based platform. From there they can ‘beam into’ a selection of destinations known as portals.

Each portal provides a countdown to indicate when it will open, after which users can connect to and take control of the robot at that travel destination.

Users can move the robot using a virtual or physical joystick, and can opt to show themselves on its screen and have conversations with anyone nearby.

At present the travel robot service is free to use, and will initially launch with seven tourism destinations in the UK, with plans to expand internationally in the new year.


Tourism robot provides travel alternative amid Covid-19 lockdowns

Propelmee has launched the tourism robot service to provide digital alternatives to traditional travel at a time when options for real-world holidays are extremely limited.

“Countries around the world have imposed many travel restrictions and introduced strict quarantining rules,” said Zain Khawaja, founder and CEO of Propelmee.

“This makes it very difficult for people to travel for leisure or recreation. Tourism is one of the last remaining sectors to go fully digital – there aren’t any good online alternatives for visiting places and that’s what we wanted to solve with Challau.”

The startup believes its tourism robot has an edge on other options available to those in lockdown.

“Compared to existing online travel options, Challau gives users complete agency to explore as they wish, in real-time,” said Khawaja.

“We think that it’s really exciting for people to drive a robot on the other side of the world. It’s the closest thing to actually being there in person.”

Read more: VR tourism: The London attractions using virtual reality to enhance the tourist experience