Robots to Run Japan’s Henn-na Hotel: No Human Employees Welcome

Robots will carry your bags, clean your room, and manage the front desk.

Photo Caption: Robots at the Henn-na Hotel, set to open in Japan this summer, will carry your bags, clean your room, and manage the front desk.

It was big news when Savioke, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup, began testing its ROS-powered SaviOne autonomous service robot at the Aloft Cupertino hotel in California. The robot helped human employees deliver amenities to guest rooms and move linens and towels from the laundry room to guest rooms and to the fitness center in just three minutes or less.

A new, two-story hotel set to open in Japan on July 17 is taking the robot employee factor to the next level. In fact, robots will be the only employees at the hotel. There won’t be any humans.

According to the Japan Times, the Henn-na Hotel at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo, Japan will use robots to help you with your bags, clean your room, manage the front desk, and perform other hotel services.

“Henn-na” is Japanese for strange hotel. The creators of the hotel say the robots will reduce costs and ensure comfort.

Here’s more on the robots from TTG Asia:

“Three uniformed robots or “actroids” will run the reception desk at the 72-room hotel, while four porter robots will be on hand to take guests’ luggage to their rooms. Actroids will also staff the cloakroom, clean the hotel, and serve meals in the restaurant.

The androids, which bear the features and mannerisms of a young woman, will be able to speak Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English, make hand gestures, and determine a customer’s mood based on their facial expressions.

The actroids were developed by Osaka University and built by Kokoro, with the first version dating back to 2003.”

“We will make the most efficient hotel in the world,” says Hideo Sawada, company president. “In the future, we’d like to have more than 90 percent of hotel services operated by robots.”

The hotel will feature other high-tech touches, including facial-recognition technology that will replace room keys.

The first building in the hotel will open with 72 rooms, followed by another 72-room building in 2016. A single room will cost 7,000 yen a night ($59). A twin room will run 9,000 yen ($76).

Henn-na Hotel Robots
Aerial view of the Henn-na Hotel that will open this summer in Sasebo, Japan. It will be staffed entirely by robots.

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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