Japan's New "Weird Hotel" Is Staffed by Polite Robot Dinosaurs (and More)

Friday, 25 August 2017 - 10:26AM
Weird Science
Technology
Robotics
Friday, 25 August 2017 - 10:26AM
Japan's New "Weird Hotel" Is Staffed by Polite Robot Dinosaurs (and More)
Image credit: Henn na Hotel
The Henn na Hotel (or "Weird Hotel" in English) is one of Japan's newest attractions, having just thrown open its doors today for all who might wish for a no-frills overnight experience that feels a little bit like Westworld meets Jurassic Park. In order to save on labor costs, the Hotel is highly automated, with robots taking the place of humans in every achievable way, right down to the concierge staff who greet guests and point them to their rooms.

While there's a human female-skinned robot who almost (almost) avoids the Uncanny Valley when remaining still (and then tumbles straight down into it when speaking), the real draw here is a dinosaur, who, with a polite bow, will help visitors to check in and find their room numbers. This place isn't called "Weird Hotel" without reason.



Not every robot on-site is quite as friendly looking as the toothy concierge—a mechanized arm that stores luggage for guests is a bare-bones machine, with a full set of storage lockers that feel a bit like the end scene of Rogue One, or else an enormous vending machine that's stocked entirely with underwear and socks.

The Henn na Hotel's operator, Hideo Sawada, has stated that this is intended to be more than just a cutesy gimmick. Sure, the bowing velociraptor draws attention, but the aim here is to convince tourists and travelers that no-frills, automated hotels are a comfortable, enjoyable alternative to places that are staffed by inferior and expensive meatsacks (aka humans).

Sawada hopes that, just as budget airlines have revolutionized air travel, budget hotels will provide a unique yet important service for those in Japan who just want a place to stay, and who don't care if they're greeted by the science fiction equivalent of an answering machine.

This seems like a pretty safe bet—after all, budget airlines have grown popular in spite of what now feels like a disappointing lack of robot dinosaur stewardesses. If the Henn na Hotel is both cheaper than a human-run establishment and features cool robotics, that's enough for us. Just don't expect to be able to treat the polite robot staff like dirt—robots have feelings too, after all!
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