The Henn- Strange Hotel located in Nagasaki Prefecture has fired hundreds of robots after they began causing trouble for their human colleagues. According to the hotel, these robots were not doing a good enough job and therefore, had to be laid off.
One of the robots that were fired was named Churi. Churi was a doll-shaped assistant robot that was placed in each room of the hotel. The purpose of Churi was to help the guests staying in the room plan their stay by answering questions regarding local attractions. However, Churi was struggling with even the basic of questions such as ‘what time does the theme park open?’ The guests had to then turn towards human employees at the hotel and this created problems for those staff members since they were not able to complete their tasks.
Two velociraptor receptionists were also laid off. The tasks assigned to these robots included greeting guests and facilitating them with the check-ins. However, the robots were not able to photocopy the guest passports. This is a requirement for checking into a Japanese hotel. The task of photocopy again required input by a human thus, making the presence of the robot useless.
The Henn- Strange Hotel describes itself as ‘the world-first hotel staffed by robots.’ According to the website of the Henn-na ‘Strange’ Hotel, ‘At the front desk, you will be greeted by multi-lingual robots that will help you check in or check out. At the cloakroom, the robotic arm will store your luggage for you. Mechanic yet somehow human, those fun moments with the robots will warm your heart. Furthermore, once you register your face with our face recognition system, you will be free from the hassle of carrying the room key around or worrying about losing it.’
Sadly, the robots that had been staffed were not up to the task. The older-gen robots were not able to stay on top of the tasks and upgrading would have cost the hotel a lot. The baggage robots, for instance, were only able to access 24 rooms out of the total 100 rooms and would only work in perfect weather conditions.
The hotel was the highlight back in 2015 when it opened with its unique approach. Another approach that is becoming the norm is that of automated hotels. Such hotels do not hire robotic staff but rather make use of easy systems for seamless check-ins and keyless access to the rooms.