And more of them will be reporting for duty in the coming months as the Japanese hotel chain that first launched robot-themed hotels opens ten more around the country.
Its first hotel (called Henn na Hotel, or ‘strange’ hotel) opened in 2015 and has immediately proved to be a great hit with the guests who are met by human-like robots and who stay in rooms boasting the latest facilities, including 4K ultrahigh-definition televisions. (You can watch a video of the opening of the first hotel here).
Guests have come to appreciate the numerous hotel robots who don’t just check you in (this robot is a slightly creepy long-haired lady humanoid) but also provide concierge services such as adjusting the lighting, checking the room temperature, setting the alarm call and even providing daily weather reports. There’s even a robot that carries your bags to your room; the door to which opens with just a glance using facial recognition technology.
There are some human staff working at each hotel but these work behind the scenes where they survey the hotel through security cameras. Their principal role is to help with techno blips.
Japan is an obvious setting for such hotels. Its shrinking and ageing population means the country has invested heavily in robotics which now come in all shapes and sizes. Vending machines have now been joined by androids in banks and even robot cleaners in airports.
Henn na Hotel’s creators insist their new hotels are not just gimmicks but represent a low cost prototype ‘smart’ hotel of the future. And with room rates starting at just £47 (Y9,000), it’s clear that reducing the number of hotel staff can reduce prices too.
Which is all very well but can these robots get hold of tickets to theatrical shows or sporting events at the last minute?