In this edition of ‘Androids Are After Our Jobs,’ a Japanese hotel replaces all of its front desk clerks, porters and other employees with robots, including a hairy nightmare dinosaur wearing a bellboy cap. In fact, should you choose to stay the night here and approach the desk furthest to the right in the lobby, you might question for a moment whether you accidentally ingested some LSD and are mentally recreating a scene from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
Don’t want to face this guy when you check in? Too bad, because he’s the only one who speaks English. “If you want to check in, push one,” he says, and you type your information into the touch screen and let it snap your photo. The porter robot accompanies you to your room with all of your luggage onboard, and you’re allowed entrance once your identity is verified with facial recognition software. Is that cute little bedside concierge watching you as you sleep, or evaluating your performance in other activities? You’ll never know.
The Henn Na hotel is a real place in Nagasaki, Japan, that aims to slash costs by automating nearly all services with a whole lot of help from technology. Owner Hideo Sawada runs the hotel as part of an amusement park, and says that while the robots may be a tourist draw, they’re not purely gimmicks. Cutting down on staff enables the hotel to rent rooms for as low as $80 a night, a rarity in the country.
The technology that makes this actually work is still in progress, so naturally, the robots can’t do nearly as many things as human employees, like calling cabs or giving you directions. You’ll have to figure that stuff out yourself. Mentioned almost as an aside is the creepy fact that the few human employees who are present in the hotel are hidden, watching you silently through a series of security cameras as you pass through the hallways and common rooms. Please enjoy your stay!