Machines might be putting humans out of work around the world, but hotel staff should be safe for a while. Japan’s Henn-na Hotel — or Weird Hotel — was the world’s first hotel run mostly by robots, but it has recently had to cull half of its robot workforce.
The hotel, which opened in 2015, employed 243 robots — some of which resembled dinosaurs — to manage every aspect of the hospitality experience, including check-in, luggage carrying, concierge, and even in-room robot assistants. But the hotel didn’t live up to the hype, and after three years of operation, the robots started malfunctioning and became obsolete.
The Wall Street Journal reported the story of Yoshihisa Ishikawa, who got woken up by the in-room assistant several times during his one-night stay as his loud snoring triggered the robot to ask, “Sorry, I couldn’t catch that. Could you repeat your request?” Other guests also complained that the robots were unable to perform simple tasks that a smartphone could handle — concierges were not able to provide guests with information that Siri took only seconds to produce. And it turned out that the droids at reception, including a couple of T-rex, could not make copies of guests’ passports without human help.
As these problems persisted, the hotel relied more and more on its human staff to perform tasks, and to keep the robots operating properly. Ultimately, the result was the firing of much of the hotel’s droids. Reception desks will now be run by humans, a real-life concierge will provide information, and a human bellhop will carry luggage. The gimmick only lasted three years.
H/T: Lonely Planet