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Robot Hotel Loses Love for Robots


The hotel's rpiano-playing robot.

A hotel in Japan hyped as the world's first to be staffed by robots has eliminated more than half of its robots.

Credit: Alastair Gale/The Wall Street Journal

A hotel in Japan hyped as the world's first robot-staffed hotel has eliminated more than half of its robots due to mounting complaints.

The Henn na, or "Strange," Hotel, whose goal was to address labor shortages with robots, as well as appeal to foreign tourists with its unique concept, experienced frequent robot malfunctions that increased overtime for human staff.

Adding to guests' frustration was the robots' inability to keep pace with popular digital assistants like Alexa or Siri, as well as their limited interaction and informational capabilities.

In response, newer Strange Hotel branches are only deploying robots that have proven useful, in addition to solutions like solar energy and facial-recognition systems for guestroom keys.

Hideo Sawada, president of the travel company that owns the hotel, said, “When you actually use robots you realize there are places where they aren’t needed—or just annoy people.”

From The Wall Street Journal
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