A cafe is set to open in the Akasaka district of Tokyo this November where all the waiters will robots, remotely controlled by people with physical disabilities.
The cafe will open in November until the start of December. It will utilise OriHime-D robots, developed by Ory Lab Inc. The robots will be controlled by people with conditions including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neuron disease.
The robot waiters are 1.2 meters tall and weigh 20 kilograms. Their controllers will be able to see the cafe thanks to audio and video transmitted over the internet. The controllers will direct them from home using tablets or computers.
Japan Today reports that Kentaro Yoshifuji, chief executive officer of Ory Lab. Inc, said: “I want to create a world in which people who can’t move their bodies can work too.”
Yoshifuji began to develop robots during his time at Waseda University. He had difficulty communicating, due to a stress-induced illness during childhood. He started developing to help connect people.
OriHime robots are already commonplace – the smaller models are 21.5 centimeters tall and weigh about 600 grams. They are currently utilised by around 70 companies for telecommuting. They can also be used in classrooms by students who cannot attend school due to illness, for example.
The company hopes to develop the cafe into a permanent fixture, and increase the number of companies utilising Orihime robots in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
When the OriHime-D’s debut in August, a robot controlled by Nozomi Murata, who has muscle weakness from autophagic vacuolar myopathy, asked a family if they would like some chocolate.
Masatane Muto, an ALS patient and one of the organizers of the project, said: “Everyone should have the freedom to work in the way they like. Foundation.
“I want to send out the message toward 2020 that you can show hospitality even if you have disabilities.”
Earlier this year, Huis Ten Bosch, the Dutch-themed theme park in Nagasaki, announced plans to use AI and robots to to replace two-thirds of the park’s workforce. Bots have been identified as a tech trend in the attractions industry.
Image courtesy Ory Labs Inc