World’s first robot-staffed hotel to open in Japan
Monday, 9 February 2015 00:00
A FLEET of robots will be providing ‘personal’ touches to guests checking into a new hotel scheduled to open in southern Japan this July.
The Hen-na Hotel – which literally means “strange hotel” – is nearing completion at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park outside Nagasaki and will be the world’s first hotel staffed by humanoid androids.
Three uniformed robots or “actroids” will run the reception desk at the 72-room hotel, while four porter robots will be on hand to take guests’ luggage to their rooms. Actroids will also staff the cloakroom, clean the hotel, and serve meals in the restaurant. The androids, which bear the features and mannerisms of a young woman, will be able to speak Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English, make hand gestures, and determine a customer’s mood based on their facial expressions.
The actroids were developed by Osaka University and built by Kokoro, with the first version dating back to 2003.
Besides the actroids, the hotel will also incorporate other forms of state-of-the-art technology, including facial recognition systems to enter a guest’s room.
The aim is to both highlight technological advances and keep costs down, said the hotel operator. And because robots do not require wages, the cost of a night in the Hen-na Hotel is a mere 7,000 yen ($ 60) per night, far lower than the 20,000 yen starting price at other hotels in the theme park.
And while the Hen-na Hotel may be a one-off at present, the concept could catch on – for its novelty value at the very minimum.