This Cafe is Staffed By Robots Remotely Controlled By People with Disabilities

A new Tokyo cafe is staffed by robots that are remotely controlled by people with severe physical disabilities.

The cafe, which has the catchy name of Dawn ver.β, utilizes five OriHime-D robot waiters, which take orders and serve food at the cafe. The high-tech radio-controlled robots are designed so people with disabilities, spinal cord injuries, or diseases like ALS can operate them from home. They transmit audio and video footage wirelessly to the robot’s controller, who can direct them via tablets or computers.

This iteration of the cafe is only temporary, closing on December 7, but the partners hope to launch a permanent cafe before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and come up with new ways to promote employment assistance for people with disabilities.

The cafe stems from a collaboration between the Nippon Foundation, ANA Holdings Inc., and Ory Lab Inc., who makes the robots. The idea was to help get people stuck at home back into the workforce, offering part-time jobs and minimum wage (1,000 yen per hour) and some independence, too.