The Tokyo metropolitan government is introducing robot staffers to hotels in the capital where coronavirus patients with mild symptoms are staying.
One semi-humanoid robot dubbed “Pepper” and another autonomous vacuum cleaner robot known as “Whiz” will be taking up their posts in five hotels in Japan's capital.
Both robots are made by Japanese firm SoftBank Robotics.
Since April 17, the Tokyo metropolitan government has moved coronavirus patients with mild symptoms into select hotels in the capital to relieve pressure on hospitals.
But checking into these hotels can be a lonesome experience as patients must register themselves, keep to their rooms, and only go down to the lobby three times a day to pick up their meals at designated time slots.
“Quarantine life in the hotel is very daunting for the patients. I hope the robot can cheer them up and help make their time in the hotel as comfortable as possible," said Nasataka Tsuji, a spokesman from the Tokyo metropolitan government.
Tsuji added that the lobby area had been designated as a "red zone" -- an area with a high risk of infection -- as coronavirus patients pass through it to pick up their daily meals. "Having robots there will improve the safety for the staff who have to work in that area," added Tsuji.
Helping staff: Each hotel is staffed by 15 to 20 city officials, plus one doctor and two to three nurses, who wear full protective gear when walking through the lobby, the corridors and when checking in on each patient.
Greetings and reminders: Pepper is intended to cheer patients and boost morale. The robot reminds patients to check their temperature regularly and repeats phrases like “united in the fight against coronavirus.”
Bringing in the robots: Tokyo officials want to expand the use of robots in hotels used to accommodate coronavirus patients and hope to deploy them on each floor.