From the receptionist that does the check-in and check-out to the porter that is an automated trolley taking luggage to the room, a hotel in south west Japan called Weird Hotel is “manned” almost totally by robots to save on labour costs.
Hideo Sawada, who runs the hotel as part of an amusement park, insists using robots is not a gimmick, but a serious effort to use technology and achieve efficiency.
The receptionist robot that speaks in English is a vicious-looking dinosaur, and the one that speaks Japanese is a female humanoid with blinking lashes. “If you want to check in, push one,” the dinosaur says. The visitor still has to punch a button on the desk, and type their information on to a touch panel screen. Henn na Hotel, as it is called in Japanese, was shown to reporters yesterday – complete with robot demonstrations – ahead of its opening to the public tomorrow.
Another feature of the hotel is the use of facial recognition technology, instead of the standard electronic keys – the digital image of the guest’s face is registered during check-in. The reason for this is that robots are not good at finding keys.
A giant robotic arm is encased in glass quarters in the corner of the lobby.
It lifts one of the boxes stacked into the wall and puts it out through a space in the glass, where a guest can place an item in it, to use as a locker.
The arm will put the box back into the wall, until the guest wants it again. The system is called “robot cloakroom”.
Why a simple coin locker will not do is not the point, according to Mr Sawada.
“I wanted to highlight innovation,” he said. “I also wanted to do something about hotel prices going up.”