Welcome to robot hotel

Welcome to robot hotel

Get ready for the "evolution".

For decades, Japan has spearheaded the rise of robots.

Whether through pop-culture or real-world advances, this is one country that loves automatons.

Now you can check into a hotel that is manned by them.

The latest endeavour to truly integrate artificial intelligence with our lives launches today in Nagasaki - the world's first hotel to be staffed mostly by robots.

Henn-Na Hotel, set in the middle of Huis Ten Bosch theme park, features 10 robotic staff - some more human in appearance than others.

Life-like robots will help check-in guests - though guests still have to type in their information - while less-humanoid machines will fix welcome drinks, carry luggage and escort guests to their rooms.

Other tasks to be robotically carried out include laundry and cleaning.

The porters have a friendly, almost cartoon-like appearance, but the attempt to make the receptionists look human is arguably unsettling (but then again, the website does describe the hotel as 'strange'.)

These "employees" are multilingual - aside from Japanese, they can converse in Chinese, Korean and English.

Less communicative is an industrial robot arm that serves as a cloak room attendant and baggage handler.

But it is not all metal and silicone.

Some human staff will still be on hand to make sure things run smoothly.

So far there are 72 rooms available, with another 72 to come.

Guests will have no use for keys, as the doors use facial-recognition sensors. The rooms also monitor guests to adjust the temperature.

GIMMICK?

The management says the hotel is not a gimmick.

It believes that by using robots and a number of renewable energy sources such as solar panels, Henn-Na will be a "low cost hotel that provides a comfortable stay and world-class productivity".

There is only one way to reserve a room at the moment and that is through an online bidding system, though room rates will be capped below the rates of other hotels in Huis Ten Bosch.

According to the Daily Mail, a single room costs from 7,000 yen (S$77) per night and the most expensive room will cost 30,000 yen.

Cost-conscious travellers will enjoy one particular perk - the staff are unlikely to ask for a tip.

Her most attractive features are her long legs and her bright smile. Her astonishingly small face is capable of creating exotic facial expressions.

- A description from robotics company Kokoro about its robot receptionist

BY THE NUMBERS

$77 or 7,000 yen, the rate for a single bedroom.

Check-in android

Guests will be greeted by humanoid robots

Created by Kokoro, a company which has been developing realistic "actroids'' since 2003 moulded to look like a young Japanese woman, the robot mimics human mannerisms, the robot can make eye contact, blink and even appear to breathe.It will also respond to body language and tone of voice

1 DIGITAL RECEPTION

Upon arrival at the hotel, which is located in Huis Ten Bosch - or House in The Forest - theme park in Nagasaki, guests are greeted by robot receptionists

2 KEYLESS ACCESS

A guest's face is scanned upon registration, using facial-recognition technology. The guest can then access his room by looking at a scanner rather than using a key card

3 PORTERS

Cute mechanoids will carry luggage and escort guests to their rooms

4 SMART ROOMS

Each unit is full of technologically advanced features to save on costs as well as ensure comfort for all guests

LED lights

For energy efficiency, solar panels tap on natural energy.

Cool aircon

Panels monitor body heat in the room and automatically adjust the temperature .

Tablets Guests can call for robotic room service with ease


This article was first published on July 18, 2015.
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