back to article World's first robot hotel massacres half of its robot staff

The world’s first hotel “staffed by robots” has culled half of its steely eyed employees, because they’re rubbish and annoy the guests. “Our hotel's advanced technologies, introduced with the aim of maximizing efficiency, also add to the fun and comfort of your stay,” the Henn na Hotel boasted on its website. It’s where …

  1. Dwarf Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Who could have seen any of that coming

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Terminator

      The former manager of Nissan Sunderland possibly could have clued them up about the luggage units.... (Cues up the wibbly wobbly timey-wimey flashback)......

      Nissan factory in Newcastle area...

      Automated mail truck with flashing light, beeping as it moves (Helen Keller would have been aware of it's approach) & overly sensitive sensors that stop 100 meters away from a insect in its path then wait before resuming moving. Stop at each location to allow mail to be loaded\unloaded.

      With the sensors being frequently tripped it, mail delivery was quicker by hand so someone disabled them & mail delivery got to the expected performance.

      Executives from Nissan turned up with local dignitaries, MP's & the like & given a factory tour.

      Partway through the tour, along comes the mail truck & to prove how safe it is, local manager sticks out his foot to prove how it's H&S compliant & half a ton of metal, motors, mail & batteries proceeded to run straight over it while it suffered no damage at all, which was more than be said for the managers foot.

      Icon - "I'll be sacked!"

      1. Nunyabiznes
        Joke

        Pfft. He wasn't a good manager anyway. If he was it would have been an underling's head in front of the wheel.

        1. Oengus Silver badge
          Joke

          If the BOFH had been there it would have been the PHB that ended up under the mail robot.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            If the BOHF had been there, it would have been armed with a flame thrower and enhanced cattle prod.

          2. phuzz Silver badge
            Joke

            If the BOFH had been there it'd have gone for the MP first...

            1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

              If the BOFH and PFY had been there, they would have gone to the pub, remotely locked all the "smart" doors, initated an algorithm (Sorry AI) that made all the machines treat squishy humans as something to manufacture and leave one window open for them to drop out of.

          3. Flakk Silver badge
            Joke

            If the BOFH had been there, the robot would have been repurposed to perform pickups from the local pub so that he and the PFY could enjoy a soothing mid-afternoon pint without that whole mucking about with walking to the pub.

            Employees complaining about the new company policy replacing intra-office deliveries with email would find area rugs and sacks of quicklime delivered to their offices as an apology.

      2. caffeine addict Silver badge

        Wasn't it Nissan where the little fella followed a metal strip on the floor.

        RoboPostie pissed someone off, so he laid a new track in speedtape that led the bleeping bot out into the carpark...?

        I really hope that story isn't apocryphal.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Perhaps making technology more durable and reliable may eventually take priority over making it “smart”.

    This would depend on who's actually running product development and design. If it's engineering then yes, reliability will come to the fore. If it's marketing than whatever is the latest buzz phrase will push the design. I saw this years ago with a simple voltage regulator development. Marketing decided instead of having several adjustment potentiometers for adjustment, they wanted a "wonderful" control. One dial that could only be turned one way to increase the "wonderful". Many of us in engineering never did sort out if they were serious or just having fun.

    1. Jim Mitchell
      Alert

      They must have been joking. The user should not be able to increase the Wonderful output without paying an additional fee!

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Not to mention that technology today is anything but smart. If it is reliable, it's because there is decades of experience behind it. But as soon as it is connected to the mother ship it becomes dumb as a rock, subservient to the whims of its maker, and should be discarded.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        ' Not to mention that technology today is anything but smart. If it is reliable, it's because there is decades of experience behind it. But as soon as it is connected to the mother ship it becomes dumb as a rock, subservient to the whims of its maker, and should be discarded beaten to a pulp, burned to the ground, shot from a cannon and encased in concrete and dropped into the deepest part of the Marianas Trench. "

        FTFY Pascal.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        But as soon as it is connected to the mother ship it becomes dumb as a rock, subservient to the whims of its maker

        Why does "Dark Star" spring to mind?

        (I saw that many, many years ago, well after reading the source story. The film is best appreciated after brain-melting amounts of scrumpy and while puffing on whacky-baccy fags. Allegedly)

    3. KittenHuffer

      Someone in Marketing reading Our stuff!

      They'd obviously heard the (semi-)famous story about 'magic' and 'more magic'!

      http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/magic-story.html

  3. John Miles
    Joke

    So that is why it starts

    The robots weren't rebelling against Humans, just upset they'd been fired ;)

    Should we fear them though - SMBC rise of the machines

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: So that is why it starts

      Do beta versions get fired? Or just put out to pasture, or the previous versions page?

      First generation hotelbots! Fabulous baby! Hopefully, they will become better, stronger and faster hotelbots in the future. Can I show you to your room Ms. Conner?

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: So that is why it starts

      Relevant XKCD: https://what-if.xkcd.com/5/

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So that is why it starts

      Relevant commentary by Trevor Noah.

      Why do we expect the rising robots would be coming after us and not each other?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So that is why it starts

        This may be the first time I've seen the word "relevant" attributed in any way to Trevor Noah.

      2. macjules Silver badge

        Re: So that is why it starts

        Simple way to avoid them coming after you then: pour some water on the floor of your hotel corridor.

  4. Dr_N Silver badge
    Terminator

    I've stayed at one of the Tokyo ones.

    It was the least roboty of their 2 hotels in Tokyo. The checkin-bots were a bit scary looking but otherwise a nice enough business hotel.

    The "Handy" free 4G phone in each room is useful. As is the LG Steamer Closet. [chortle]

    1. Roq D. Kasba

      Re: I've stayed at one of the Tokyo ones.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4ONhC6PnpI I see two human-styled robots, plus one raptor.

      Who wouldn't want to be checked in by a raptor?

  5. Sleep deprived
    WTF?

    The room doll was removed

    They went back to the dumb inflatable rubber model?

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: The room doll was removed

      Came looking for this thought. Somewhat surprised it took so long to appear. Have people taken a new year resolution to keep the comments clean, or something? Seems unlikely.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: The room doll was removed

      Um, where was the "room doll" housed? In the closet? Did it pop up out of a cabinet or descend from the ceiling on wires? Or... was it walking around freely...? Aren't all these possibilities very disturbing?

      I suppose it was probably just molded into the wall somehow. With eyes that followed you everywhere...

    3. Long John Brass Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: The room doll was removed

      The inflatable ones are strictly bargain basement models these days. Good quality one are made out of TPE. And the really good ones Silicon.

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: The room doll was removed

        Never doubt the authoritative voice of experience.

      2. Phil Endecott Silver badge

        Re: The room doll was removed

        > the really good ones Silicon.

        No, silicone. With an E on the end. Totally different stuff. You really wouln’t want to get frisky with a lump of silicon.

        1. Long John Brass Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: The room doll was removed

          > No, silicone. With an E on the end. Totally different stuff. You really wouln’t want to get frisky with a lump of silicon.

          Is that where I've been going wrong. Explains a few things :)

        2. Glenturret Single Malt

          Re: The room doll was removed

          That is actually the first time in the many years of my chemical life that I have seen that spelling mistake that way round. Does this mean that computers and their inside bits are now more commonly encountered than furniture polish?

        3. Symon Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: The room doll was removed

          Right.

          Silicon Valley -> Northern California.

          Silicone Valley -> Southern California.

        4. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: The room doll was removed

          Not getting frisky with silicon?

          As a Troll I resent that.

          1. Tom 35 Silver badge

            Re: The room doll was removed

            Go pound sand?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The room doll was removed

        Your plastic pal who is "fun" to be with?

        1. Down not across Silver badge

          Re: The room doll was removed

          Your plastic pal who is "fun" to be with?

          A Cherry 2000 gynoid?

      4. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: The room doll was removed

        Don't forget the deluxe model (that's the one with the real hair).

        (It's a NTNOCN reference, for you young'uns)

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: The room doll was removed

          and it responds nicely to American Express

          (resist the urge to speculate on providing a cyber version of NTNOCN Gerald scenarios)

        2. Symon Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: The room doll was removed

          Reminds me of "Be my girl" by 'The Police' (or as they're now known, 'Sting') from the same era.

          "She's loving, warm, inflatable and a guarantee of joy"

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: The room doll was removed

            I love the fact that the doll had the "Furby problem". Waking up at 3am because the children have made a small noise in their sleep and then scream the house down.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: The room doll was removed

            "She's loving, warm, inflatable and a guarantee of joy"

            Or the lyrics of the ELO song "Yours Truely, 2095":

            She is the latest in technology

            Almost mythology

            But she has a heart of stone

            She has an i.q. of 1001

            She has a jumpsuit on

            And she's also a telephone

  6. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Maybe they should have

    put the bid out more widely than just going with Sirius Cybernetics, even if the owner's brother did own a bunch of SC stock.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Maybe they should have

      I wonder how good their happy vertical people transporters lifts are?

  7. Jay Lenovo Silver badge

    Representative Please

    "Hospitality" and "robot" are as rewarding, as "customer service call" and "voice automated prompts".

    Pleasing people effectively was never quite that simple. Otherwise we'd buy our own robots and stay home.

  8. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Pint

    LESTER

    “When you actually use robots you realize there are places where they aren’t needed - or just annoy people”

    Is LESTER the Beer Butler still operational or has it been replaced by a PFY/intern at Vulture HQ?

    1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: LESTER

      When I were a lad, we used to beat the interns with a stick until they enjoyed it.

      Then we'd stop...

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: LESTER

        Then we'd stop...

        Says the masochist: "Hit me!"

        Says the sadist: "No"

  9. JohnFen Silver badge

    Well, yes

    "over at Indiegogo, the “world’s first phone with human like intelligence” appears to be falling a little short of its $2m target."

    That's probably more because this campaign is obviously nonsense rather than an indication of whether or not people want such a thing.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Well, yes

      "That's probably more because this campaign is obviously nonsense"

      Since when has that ever stopped a crowdfunding effort from being successful?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did the AI kick in asking for a decent wage?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      You pay nuts, you get robots.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Joke

        They don't have many bargaining chips to be fair...

  11. Magani
    FAIL

    A man ahead of his time

    Were the robots supplied by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation with the new Genuine People Personality feature?

    "Glad to be of service."

    Vale, Douglas.

  12. Denarius Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    at last

    Applying something useful that fixes a defined problem instead of market droid madness

  13. the Jim bloke Silver badge

    AI/Smart/Robotic "solutions"

    is that they’re installed to solve a management problem rather than a customer need

    too often these days, it's management that IS the problem.

  14. mad_dr

    Am I the only one thinking of

    "Hotel Bot" from Bad Robot on E4? Hilarious!

  15. Andy Law

    Artificial Intelligence is solved....

    Dilbert fixed it...

    https://dilbert.com/strip/2019-01-07 through to https://dilbert.com/strip/2019-01-12

  16. James Loughner
    Mushroom

    A national Emergancy

    We must build a wall around all robot factories at once. I will hold my breath until congress agrees.

  17. Soma
    Alert

    Please select the number of people who will use the bed.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Please select the number of people who will use the bed."

      Is there a single occupancy surcharge?

  18. DrXym Silver badge

    Next week on "Some things are bleeding obvious"

    "We ask if self driving cars are the wave of the future. Also whether kazoo marching bands are an effective way of being lulled to sleep"

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Next week on "Some things are bleeding obvious"

      Well kazoo bands are easier to get sleep to than bagpipe bands...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    multilingual female robots

    I am TERRIBLY offended by this BLANTANT genderism, where can I complain?!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: multilingual female robots

      When female robots are in the minority, it's called a crisis.

      When female robots are in the majority, it's called progress.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the room doll

    do you have to be over 18 for this service?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the room doll

      You could probably do one for those guests who are under 6months as well.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
  21. DropBear Silver badge

    So, is "acute labour shortage" the modern euphemism for "anyone attempting to spend their time doing this job would literally starve with the wage I'm willing to pay"...?

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge

      close - "any human willing to work for that wake is likely to steal from the hotel or guests to supplement their income"

  22. Handel was a crank

    Hmmm

    I'm still pondering the words in the article about them "going outside to annex buildings". Robot Reich?

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      Perhaps a case of two nations separated by a common language (but with different ways of spelling the same word).

      But seriously, hahahahahahhaha.

  23. Archtech Silver badge

    Just like the F-35...

    "They can travel only on flat surfaces and could malfunction if they get wet..."

  24. Archtech Silver badge

    Back to basics?

    It would be nice if TFA told us, anywhere easy to find, what the name of the hotel is and where it is.

    Unless I missed something, the first tenuous hint comes in the ninth paragraph where we are tantalised by the fact that the hotel manager's name sounds Japanese. Of course the hotel might still be in Mozambique or Ireland, but it's the way to bet.

    And of course the Japanese are known to be world leaders in lunatic automation schemes.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: Back to basics?

      What, like in the second paragraph where is says "the Henn na Hotel boasted on its website" (complete with a link)??

  25. fastmack
    Go

    all the brains in the world cannot sort this out yet shakes head theres so much my sony phone can do so smart and windows 10 is so stupid my xp professional is better at it please go back to xp and save ur self now raymond petrie aberdeen scotland ps thanks register staff and maplins are back yess

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Union

    "The world’s first hotel “staffed by robots” has culled half of its steely eyed employees"

    This clearly needs a robot union to cover robot rights in the workplace.

  27. jbrickley

    From the pre-Internet Hitchhikers Guide To The Universe:

    The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation is the primary manufacturer and supplier of androids, robots and autonomic assistants for the known universe. They are known for their catchy jingles and catchphrases, supplied by their Marketing Department.

    They are not, however, known for the quality of their products.

    Their primary claim to fame seems to be constructing just about everything with (unstable) advanced robotics and software. From doors to lifts, to toaster ovens, drinks machines, vacuum cleaners, and "personal massage units" -- Everything has been built with a full GPP or Genuine People Personality. This means that even a set of airlock doors has emotions, hopes, dreams, intelligence, and worse of all, the capacity for boredom. It should come as no surprise then, that the majority of these devices have a neurotic streak a mile wide.

    The company motto is "Share and Enjoy." This is widely adaptable, from synthesized drinks to the company of a robot, or 'Your plastic pal who's fun to be with' as it is described by the aforementioned Marketing Department. It should be noted that many who do not Enjoy, then go on to fail to Share, unless this includes sharing strongly-worded opinions toward their complaints department.

    The Hitchhiker's Travel Guide describes the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as:

    "A bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes."

    Curiously, an edition of the Encyclopedia Galactica which conveniently fell through a rift in the time-space continuum from 1000 years in the future describes the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as:

    "A bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came."

    Only their complaints department survived the general economic implosion of the company as a whole.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sooooo

    This "A voice-activated robot doll is on hand at night"

    Anyone know if it's available...?

  29. Pirate Dave
    Pirate

    Snoring?

    "that the robo-doll interpreted snoring as a request it couldn’t understand,"

    Ah, they forgot to train the female room robots to understand lewd requests while drunk.

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