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AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
A front-desk robot performs at the Henn na Hotel in Sasebo, in western Japan.

Inside Japan’s first “robot hotel”

Steve Mollman
By Steve Mollman

Weekend editor

It was bound to happen eventually. A hotel staffed with robots will open on Friday (July 17) in Japan—a world leader in robotics. Aptly named Henn na Hotel, or “weird hotel,” it’s located in Sasebo, a city in the southwestern Nagasaki prefecture. Rooms start at about 9,000 yen ($80) per night.

The reception desk features a robot that looks like a human woman and speaks Japanese. Another robot looks like a dinosaur and speaks English.

AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
Front-desk robots.

A robotic porter transfers luggage for guests:

AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
A porter robot escorts a human to a room.

Guests can also use a locker room, which features the kind of robotic arm normally associated with manufacturing facilities:

AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
A robot arm moves a box containing a suitcase.

In the rooms, a concierge robot sits on the bedside table, ready to take questions:

AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
A hotel staffer talks with the concierge robot “Chu-ri-Robo.”

Japan considers robots vital to its economic development and is home to a wide variety of them. There are emotional robots, sparring robots, and life-saving robots. Some believe robotics will grow into a trillion-dollar market.

There are fears, of course, that robots will take our jobs. But the hotel employs humans for some tasks, such as providing security.

And one task is just too tricky for robots to handle: making the bed.

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