I have read many articles which speak of jobs being lost to robots in the near future. One of the areas that has been most obviously changed by this already is the car industry; car-building robots tirelessly work the assembly line instead of hundreds of men. But those robots are just machines, and don’t look remotely human. Of course I realise that all robots are machines, but somehow the ones that look human don’t seem quite the same.
It is for this reason that it came as rather a surprise to me to find that the 72 room Henn-na Hotel, which will open for business next month in the city of Sasebo, Japan, will have 12 members of staff, and only two of those will be human.
Henn-na translates as “Evolve” in consideration of the fact that state-of-the-art technology was going to be running the hotel. The owners wish to provide “a pleasant and comfortable hotel at a more reasonable rate. A hotel fully equipped with up-to-date and environmentally-friendly ‘smart’ facilities that is both fun to visit while at the same time being a place in which memories can be made”.
Their website, through which it is possible to make reservations beginning with the 17th July opening, goes on to say:
Robot staff members will be available throughout the hotel to perform the general duties of a hotel, such as manning the reception, acting as porters and making sure everything is spick and span. You are sure to sense the warmth that these robots exude when chatting with them as they efficiently go about their duties.
The hotel has been established with the cooperation of companies in the advanced technology field, such as Kokomo Company Ltd, Aldebaran Robotics and Yasukawa Electric Corporation.
It is possible to stay in rooms without having a key, according to customer preference. The latest face authentication system will register you through image recognition and let you into the room. Customers who do not wish to be face authenticated can stay with a contactless key card.
A second phase, with a further 72 rooms, is due to open in 2016.
Interestingly, the town of Sasebo is in the Nagasaki region of Japan. Who would have guessed that such a recovery would be possible after the terrible events at the end of the Second World War?