It’s time to see robots and how they can be beneficial to humankind in a new light. Please let irrational fears that robots will rule our planet one day be set aside and picture these robots in a new heart-warming kind of way. Remember the pop-up café called Dawn Café in Tokyo that planned to use robot servers in place of actual human waiters. It was the result of a joint association between NPO Nippon Foundation and the airline ANA, along with robotics startup Ory, which built the OriHime-D – a 4-foot-tall (120 centimeters) robot to be operated remotely for the café. The idea was to employ and give a chance at a social life to people paralyzed due to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), spinal cord injuries, and other debilitating conditions. Thanks to the OriHime-D being equipped with built-in cameras and speakers, the human operators can hear and see exactly what the robots hear and see in a live environment. The pop-up has now taken permanent residence and opened its doors on June 22 in Nihonbashi. Tokyo’s latest Avatar Cafe DAWN ver.β run by robots is now officially open and this is what it looks like:
Dawn Avatar Robot Café aims to create more job opportunities for disabled persons even if they are bedridden. CEO Kentaro Yoshifuji was inspired to open the establishment after his own experience of being bedridden in the hospital for about three years.
The table-top stationary robot, OriHime is used to take orders from customers while the small robot is consigned to emotively communicate with customers in addition to voice-based interactions. Each table also has an iPad to support ordering and text-based communication with pilots.
Avatar Cafe DAWN ver.β location will offer new possibilities for social participation for those with severe disabilities, which will hopefully lead to an expansion of remote work opportunities beyond the cafe supported by OriHime robots.