Robot future not as scary, or efficient, as once imagined

Last year, Hotsauce reported on a hotel in Japan called Henn-na which was staffed and run primarily by robots. While hospitality workers worldwide decided it was time to tear through a Learning Annex booklet, some were skeptical that a hotel experience based solely on human/robot interaction could work.

Alas, the skeptics have been proven correct!

The Wall Street Journal reports that the robots were so bad at their jobs (and annoying the guests) that they are getting rid of half of them.

As Futurism put it…

“Some of the problems stem from creative ideas that didn’t pan out, like a robot velociraptor that staffed the check-in desk. […] Churi, the personal assistant robot found in each room, could handle basic tasks but pales in comparison to the personal assistant that comes standard with any new smartphone.

In case after case, these robots proved too annoying or broke down too often to be worth the trouble, according to the WSJ. The velociraptor couldn’t handle foreign guests, for instance; human employees had to come over to photocopy their passports.

Churi could change a room’s temperature and respond to basic small talk, but couldn’t answer any questions about the area or other attractions. Meawhile, Henn-na Hotel’s management was so confident in the robots’ abilities that they didn’t equip rooms with phones. Later on, management made up for Churi’s limitations with the cutting-edge solution of placing a human employee at the front desk to answer questions.

Meanwhile, Churi would reportedly wake up guests again and again after mistaking their snoring for a question that the robot couldn’t quite understand.”

The keyboard robot couldn’t actually play anything.

Story on the WSJ

Why it’s Hot

It’s always great to imaging a new future but it should be tempered with reality. Perhaps using robots in more than just a support capacity is premature at this time.

Hotel of the future

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group opened its first “future hotel”, also known as “Flyzoo Hotel”, in Hangzhou, China.

Equipped with the latest leading technology, many futuristic features are enabled at the hotel, guests can check into the hotel without talking to anyone. They can walk straight to their rooms and get their faces scanned at the door to gain entry.

Robots can be found everywhere in the hotel, and they would guide the guests by providing recorded voice messages and accompany them during their stay. The guests can also control indoor temperatures, lighting intensity, household appliances through their voices.

A very notable device that the hotel is equipped with is called “Tmall Genie”, which is an AI management system. The system will take orders from guests, including buying groceries.

The one-meter high robot ‘Genie’ powered by Tmall, an AI system, follows guests around, takes orders, helps to buy groceries, orders meals, and picks up laundry through voice command, touch, or simple gestures.

Flyzoo Hotel Hangzhou 201811061912218939

Flyzoo Hotel Hangzhou 8ba9b831-4c01-42d4-ad77-7f19bba520e0

Why it’s hot: As a reply to high labor costs, creating uniformity in hospitality services and mixing up and re-imaging the hotel industry, this robot enabled hotel is smarter, more automated and an inspiration for future digital travelers.

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