I called for more coffee pods in my Shanghai hotel room and this is how they came to me: pic.twitter.com/zqc9OLpXHA— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) November 20, 2019
Five years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged for a “robot revolution”.
Analysts say that the goal was to boost automation and give China an edge in global manufacturing in the years to come. Now, Chinese factories are being flooded with robots, and these machines now also appear in public settings, such as in hotels. Anna Fifield, the bureau chief of The Washington Post Beijing, found this out firsthand during her reporting trip to Shanghai.
While checking into a local hotel, she said, she noticed a slender trash-can-shaped robot in the lobby, its cylindrical body plastered with a tiny human-ish face. The hotel’s receptionist told Fifield that if she needed anything, she could request a robot delivery.
The next morning, after asking for more coffee pods, she opened her hotel room door and, to her amusement, found herself face-to-face with the delivery bot.
“When the robot arrived at my hotel door, it called my room phone and told me, in Chinese and English, that it was at my door,” Fifield wrote after being reached by email. “Then when I went out there, it was waiting and was easy to use. It said in Chinese: ‘You are the cutest person in the whole universe. Do you want to take a selfie with me? Let’s say ‘eggplant’ together.’ (eggplant in Chinese is “qiezi” which sounds like ‘cheese.’)”
Hotels from the U.S, Japan, and South Korea, have already deployed their respective service robots. While some look forward to this development, there are others who are skeptical about it, like the InterContinental Los Angeles Century City general manager Steve Choe.
“With robots, you don’t get personalized service,” Choe said. “Those are the touches people still want.”
What are your thoughts about this one?
(Image Credit: Anna Fifield/ Twitter)