Hotel Staffed By Robots Offers Glimpse Of Japan’s Future

The new Henn-na hotel near Nagasaki, Japan offers guests a unique experience as most of the hotel staff consists of robots. The name of the hotel fittingly means “strange” in Japanese as the hotel is a combines an amusement park with a standard business hotel. The hotel is located north of Nagasaki in Sasebo and is a part of a Holland-based amusement park called Huis Ten Bosch. The hotel featuring androids and dinosaur robots is set to open today. It features 72 rooms and a 20 member staff, half robots and half humans.

When first entering the hotel, guests are greeted with a giant robot arm used in industries. Supplied by Yaskawa electric, this robotic arm serves a cloakroom for those interested. Guests place their belongings inside a receptacle in the wall from where the robotic arm can reach. From there, the arm places the luggage in one of 30 different cubbyholes. Another interesting feature is the facial recognition for door entry. Guests can be scanned at the front desk and use their face in the place of a key. A robot concierge is also available to answer questions, in English and Japanese, for guests about the surrounding amusement park.

The rooms, designed by associate professor at the Institute of Industrial Science in the University of Tokyo Yoshiyuki Kawazoe, have a minimalist appeal to them and come complete with a personal android robot on a bedside table. This robot can pull practical information from the Internet such as weather forecast and can wake up guests. Vending machines can also be seen throughout the hotel. During a press review earlier this week, there was some minor malfunctioning with the robots.

The hotel is built to accommodate the growing number of visitors to the Huis Ten Bosch amusement park. Also, the Henn-na hotel is one of the cheapest options in the area as it offers rooms for around $73, which is half of the price of other hotels in the area. Replacing human staff with robots in an attempt to keep prices down is a reoccurring trend in Japan. Some are excited about the move towards a more automated experience while others are worried about the loss of jobs and the effect that will have on the economy. Yet Japan’s population is increasingly elderly and the birth rate is falling, meaning in order to stay productive the country must quickly adopt the widespread use of robots.

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