Robot waiters controlled by people with paralysis

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Whether it’s autonomous delivery bots dropping off pizza, robo-bartenders, or automated waiters, it’s clear that robots have a growing place in the food industry. But a new Japanese pop-up cafe located in Tokyo offers a far more uncommon — and potentially transformative — spin on this premise. Called Dawn ver.β, the temporary eatery is staffed by robot waiters operated remotely by paralyzed individuals, who can control the robots from their own homes. The cafe is based on the 2008 anime Time of Eve, set in a future in which androids are commonplace.

The four-foot-tall OriHime-D robots were built by Ory, a Japanese startup focused on developing robotics for people with disabilities. The robots can reportedly be made to move, look around, speak with customers, and carry objects, even when their operator is only able to control his or her eyes. The staff of 10 people, whose conditions range from spinal cord injuries to ALS, are paid 1,000 yen per hour. Equating to $8.80 in the U.S., this is the standard wage for part-time work in Japan.

The goal of the project isn’t about getting cheap labor, however. It’s a pilot scheme intended to give independence to people who might otherwise not have the chance to be involved with anything like this. Their ability to interact directly with clientele at the cafe is touted as a big part of the project’s appeal.



FiveWordsForTheFuture - Dec 31, 2018 | Body, Interfaces, Medicine, Robotics
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