ROBOTS SEEM SO far away. We’re so many years from Jetsons-esque machines that live among us and wash our dishes and fold our clothes.
UNTIL recently “Uber envy” afflicted many top executives at Airbnb, a platform for booking overnight stays in other people’s homes. So admits a big investor in the firm. The two companies often raised money at the same time, and the ride-hailing giant reliably received more cash and closer attention.
If Robinson Crusoe holidays are your type of thing, you’ll want to know about a new hotel concept that’s about to take Japan by storm.
Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park on the edge of Nagasaki, is planning to launch a fleet of pod-like, capsule hotel rooms that float in the water, so guests can wake up at a new destination each morning.
“I am Chihira Kanae, a Toshiba communication android,” said a humanoid robot standing onstage as part of a presentation on the future of travel at the ITB Travel Fair earlier this year in Berlin.
Wearing a blue uniform and a white collared shirt framing her silicone neck and face, Kanae robot blinked as she spoke to an audience of flashing cameras.
The University of Tokyo’s associate professor of architecture gestures behind himself to a flat, two-story building that doesn’t really look like a hotel. “Two-hundred people were involved in making this happen,” he says. “Experts in environmental design, engineering, architecture, robotics and construction.”
From hotel lobbies to restaurant floors, robots have started servicing customers’ basic requests. According to the European Commission, the market for service robots will reach €100 billion a year by 2020.