Japan is renowned for being at the forefront of technology, and the country’s ongoing love affair with robots has helped them maintain their position as world leaders in this industry. In spite of this, it was still a little surprising to find out that Japanese scientists have progressed the field so much that a hotel is due to be opened this year in Nagasaki which will be half-staffed by robots.
Henn-na Hotel, which means either “strange” or “change” hotel, you pick the one that suits it best, will come to life in July this year. The 72-room hotel will be staffed by 10 people alongside 10 robots, in case you miss interacting with people. These so-called “actroids” are designed to be remarkably, and slightly creepily, human-like. Developed by Osaka University and manufactured by Kokoro, a branch of the company that licenses Hello Kitty, the humanoids bear the features and mannerisms of young Japanese women.
Huis Ten Bosch
According to The Telegraph, alongside speaking Japanese, these multilingual bots will be capable of conversing fluently in Chinese, Korean and English. Not only that, but they will also be able to make hand gestures and mimic various other human behaviors, such as breathing and blinking. And just to really freak you out, they can even make eye contact and respond to both body language and tone of voice, Washington Post reports.
Three robots will man the hotel’s reception and, after checking you in, another industrial robot will deal with your luggage. These actroids are joined by numerous porters and service robots which carry out a variety of everyday tasks, such as making coffee, cleaning and delivering laundry. Alongside this futuristic team, the hotel will have various other high-tech features, such as facial recognition in place of key cards. Guests will also be able to request additional amenities through a tablet computer provided by the hotel.
Huis Ten Bosch
The hotel will become part of a theme park called Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki which is modeled on a 17th century Dutch town. Although the hotel will initially have half of its staff as robots, in the future the park hopes to have more than 90% of hotel services operated by robots. And it’s thanks to all these robots that room prices can be kept low, alongside other features which reduce operating costs such as solar panels and energy efficient LED lights. But of course, it’s going to be popular, so the rooms will be reserved based on a bidding system that starts at around $60 (7,000 yen), but capped well below the rates of rooms in other hotels at the park.
If the hotel is a success, the owners hope to open another in the park in 2016, followed by an ambitious further 1,000 worldwide. “We will make the most efficient hotel in the world,” company President Hideo Sawada said at a news conference. Sounds great, let’s just hope they don’t go AWOL like the robotic vacuum cleaner that recently ate a South Korean woman’s hair as she slept.
[Via Henn-na Hotel, Techxplore, the Telegraph, Engadget, Washington Post, Japan Times and See Japan]
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