By Marisa Martin • Design World Intern || Those who travel a lot want hotels that are comfortable and efficient. Soon, travelers could get just that thanks to robots. At the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, California, guests can interact with a service robot called A.L.O. the Botlr. Unveiled in 2014, A.L.O. can complete most bellhop tasks — such as delivering bags, food or convenience items to guest or conference rooms — letting front-desk employees focus on welcoming visitors.
This year, more hotels are following suit with service robots of their own. In fact, one hotel in Japan is taking the robotic hotel-service idea a step further. The Henn-na Hotel — which translates to English as the Weird Hotel — is a hotel in Nagasaki, a city known for its embrace of technology and robots. Opened July 2016, the hotel runs 12 rooms in each wing off of solar power. Plus the whole service staff is automaton.
The world’s first hotel staffed by robots opens this month. The machines can check in visitors, carry luggage, or offer travel suggestions. CBS This Morning’s Seth Doane reports from Tokyo.
Guests entering the lobby are greeted by three robots stationed behind the front desk. One is a life-like Asian woman who speaks Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Another is a Velociraptor that speaks English. The third, Nao, runs a concierge desk. Nao is a small robot that speaks all languages. Each of the robots have computers in front of them for guests to swipe credit cards.
Porter robots then carry bags to rooms; a separate team of locker-room robots assist guests hitting the gym. At each room’s bedside, a pink-and-green Hello-Kitty-like creature named Churi-chan helps guests adjust lighting, room temperature, and alarm settings. It also gives the weather. The Henn-na Hotel is also exploring the idea of incorporating a drone to deliver food from nearby restaurants.
The smart hotel uses other technology to eliminate common hotel hassles. For example, property-wide facial recognition panels allow keyless room entry. The system grants general hotel and room access to guests after verification from a quick glance.
Humans at the Henn-na Hotel work like Broadway stagehands. 10 or more dressed all in black (to keep a low profile) watch security cameras and fixing the robots having technical difficulties. But the hotel staff is only 10% human; 90% are robots.
The Henn-na Hotel aims to be a low-cost hotel alternative. Many believe this idea will take flight, just as low-cost airlines have. Rooms begin at 7,000 yen ($68) but plans are to auction rooms to high bidders during peak seasons.
The robot-staffed Henn-na Hotel stands in stark to the nearby Netherlands-inspired Huis Ten Bosch theme park of Dutch-style buildings, shops, canals, and amusement rides. It could mark a coming wave of automated lodging options.
The Henn-na Hotel