Strange robot hotel in Japan loses love for robots
Jan 14, 2019 (Agencia EFE via COMTEX) —
Sasebo (Japan), Jan 14 (efe-epa).- Yoshihisa Ishikawa’s one-night stay at a robot-staffed hotel in western Japan wasn’t relaxing.
He was roused every few hours during the night by the doll-shaped assistant in his room asking: “Sorry, I couldn’t catch that. Could you repeat your request?”
By 6 am, he realized the problem: His heavy snoring was triggering the robot.
Turns out, robots aren’t the best at hospitality. After opening in a blaze of publicity in 2015, Japan’s Henn na, or “Strange,” Hotel, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s first robot hotel, is now laying off its low-performing droids, according to a Dow Jones report supplied on Monday to Efe.
So far, the hotel has culled over half of its 243 robots, many because they created work rather than reduced it.
“It’s easier now that we’re not being frequently called by guests to help with problems with the robots,” said one staff member who has worked at the hotel for three years.
Robots and other devices that could be useful to the hospitality industry were all over the CES consumer-technology show last week in Las Vegas. Self-driving shuttle buses can move visitors around; a Lenovo Smart Clock with a built-in Google assistant can turn the lights on or read you a bedtime story, and a delivery robot called Segway-Ninebot Loomo Delivery can zip goods around a building complex.
Hotels in the Yotel and Aloft chains in the United States use three-feet high droids that deliver mail, toiletries and drinks to rooms. Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba launched the Space Egg robot hotel porter late last year, and the Hilton in McLean, Virginia, employs a robot concierge.