Hotel sacks half of its robot staff for being bad at their jobs
A high-tech hotel in Japan has been forced to lay off half of its robot staff after finding they were incompetent and created more work for humans.
The robots were introduced partly as a novelty and partly to reduce the need for human staff at the Han na Hotel, in a bid to make it "the most efficient hotel in the world".
There were robotic dancers in the lobby, dinosaur-shaped robot receptionists and egg-shaped bots to act as assistants in guest rooms.
The hotel started out with 80 robots but this quickly grew to more than 243.
The website promised: "Excitement meets comfort. Introducing state-of-the-art technologies, Henn na Hotel is the world-first hotel staffed by robots.
"At the front desk, you will be greeted by multi-lingual robots that will help you check in or check out. At the cloakroom, the robotic arm will store your luggage for you.
"Mechanic yet somehow human, those fun moments with the robots will warm your heart. Furthermore, once you register your face with our face recognition system, you will be free from the hassle of carrying the room key around or worrying about losing it."
The hotel in western Japan is located near a theme park, so there is a major shortage of workers.
But now more than half of the robotic "staff" have been cut.
Robotic concierges were unable to answer simple questions, the dinosaurs at check-in needed human help for many menial tasks, and the robotic dancers broke down.
The Churi or egg-shaped robot in guest rooms was criticised for chiming in with "Sorry, I couldn't catch that. Could you repeat your request?" all night - apparently triggered by snoring.
Another guest said that it tried to join in random conversations - but then couldn't answer simple queries when it was needed.
In a world where workers are increasingly worried that their jobs will be automised, the lessons learned in the hotel offers some hope. Once the novelty of robotic workers fades, it seems that people still need other human beings to get the job done.
"When you actually use robots you realize there are places where they aren't needed - or just annoy people," said hotel owner Hideo Sawada, speaking to the Wall Street Journal.