Japan's robot industry is booming. In Japan, robots are already active in various service areas, including catering, distribution, medical care and finance. It has even developed an observation device that analyzes big data related to space through AI and finds unknown celestial bodies such as supernova in real time.
AI Times will introduce the world's first unmanned hotel and café on three article
(AI타임스=박혜섭 기자) In 2015, H.I.S. Co., one of the major travel agency in Japan opened the Henn na Hotel which was “the first robot-staffed hotel”. “Henn” means “strange” or “to change” in Japanese. The Henn na Hotel encompasses both meanings, and the word contains aspirations of Hideo Sawada, chairman of HIS Company. After opening a new branch in Osaka last year, the company now has 16 franchisee hotels in Kanto region, including capital Tokyo, Chubu (central) region, and Kyushu.
The robots in the hotel perform most of the work on behalf of humans, from reception to transport of luggage. In recognition of such characteristics, it was listed in the World Guinness Book of Records as the world's first robot hotel. Especially artificial intelligence speakers (known as Churi) in hotel rooms received explosive reactions from guests, and they expected to be provided convenience and fun at same time.
In the beginning, the Henn na Hotel was expected to be a good solution for replenishing its labor force in Japan where now suffering from a decline of population. The hotel explained that the robots would be convenient as they perform to carry luggage, clean rooms, and provide other different services instead of human employees. But as of 2019, more than half of the 243 robots have been removed.
After received frequent complaints from their guests, the robots are disappeared at the front desks, and human staffs are taking care of what the machine did. The main dissatisfaction towards to front desk robots was the lack of communications. Many guests who responded to their complaints said that services by human who can say warm words are still familiar rather than the convenience of robots. A Chinese customer at ‘the Henn na Hotel Haneda Tokyo’ said, “Hotel staffs provide more natural service than AI robots.”
There was also considerable dissatisfaction to AI robot ‘Churi’ which was expected to be a secretary-role in guest rooms. The hotel said that ‘Churi’ has the most advanced AI functions and analog phone or clock are unnecessary. However, the robot could not even respond for basic alarms and malfunctioned to the small noises that guests made.
One guest said, “When I cough or snore, I couldn’t stop laughing because Churi was keep saying like ‘Please tell me one more time’ or ‘I’m sorry but I can't understand.’ ”
Regarding such complaints Henn na Hotel said, “We’re looking at ways to significantly reduce the number of current AI robots in our hotel and are researching to provide advanced AI technology to guests.”