Japanese Cafe Used Technology To Employ Disabled People As Waiters

Robot waiters aren’t a new concept in the technology sphere. They’re already used in several cafes, like Naulo restaurant in Nepal which has employed three humanoid waiters called ‘Gingers.’ But, a startup Ory Lab has taken this concept to brand new level.

A Dawn Ver Beta cafe was opened up in Tokyo, Japan for two weeks. It used Orly Lab’s robots to serve customers, and the most incredible part about the cafe is that severely disabled people remotely controlled all of the robots, for the sole purpose of helping paralyzed people gain more independence in their lives.

Ten people were working at the cafe. The employees suffered from diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other spinal cord injuries. They operated four-foot robots called OriHime-D, from their home and were paid 1,000 yen ($9) per hour.

The robots were controlled with the help of a computer which tracks the eye movements of bed-bound people. It allowed them to move robots, make them pick up objects and even talk to customers. Essentially, disabled people could use these robots as ‘proxies.’ “I want to create a world in which people who can’t move their bodies can work too,” said Kentaro Yoshifuji, CEO of Ory Lab. Inc.

Nevertheless, this cafe, as its name suggests, was only in the beta stage for a couple of weeks. The creators are still raising funds to open the cafe permanently for 2020.


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