New Japanese hotel has robot staff and no room keys

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Robots are deployed at the front desk to help guests check-in and out(Credit: Henn-na Hotel)

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A new hotel that is staffed with robots has opened in Japan. The Henn-na Hotel (which translates as "Strange Hotel"), is part of the Huis Ten Bosch theme park complex in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. Guests can also access their rooms via face-recognition, and are able to control room amenities via tablets.

The Henn-na Hotel was designed by Kawazoe Lab, the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo, and Kajima Corporation. As well as aiming to provide a pleasant and comfortable stay for guests, the hotel was designed to be cost-effective, modern, environmentally-friendly and fun.

Robots are deployed at the front desk to help guests check-in and out. According to the Henn-na Hotel, it's possible to hold a conversation with the "warm" and "friendly" robots while they get on with their work. Alternatively, self-service check-in and check-out eliminates the need to go to the front desk or to wait in line.

There are porter robots employed to carry luggage to and from rooms, and cleaning robots employed to keep the hotel spotless of their own accord. There is also a robot employed in the cloak room. Objects up to the size of small bags can be handed over and the robot will put them away in secure lockers. When the belongings are needed, the robot will locate them in the correct locker and hand them back to the guest.

The hotel has a number of other high-tech features, too. Guests can make use of keyless access to rooms by using face-recognition. This eliminates the need to carry around a room key or card that could potentially be lost. Swipe cards are available, though, for guests who would prefer not to use the face-recognition technology.

Rooms feature motion-sensor-controlled lighting that detects when people are in a room. In this way, room lights are turned on and off automatically. They can also be controlled via tablets provided in the hotel rooms, which can be used to control other amenities as well.

Each room features a radiant panel air conditioning system that uses electromagnetic waves to transfer heat directly from one object to another without affecting the air in between. Its temperature-controlled surface draws heat away from the body when it's warm, and keeps heat from escaping the body when it's cool.

The Henn-na Hotel opened on July 17. There are 72 rooms available during the first phase of construction, with a total of 144 planned eventually. Rooms start from 9,000 yen (US$73).

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