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This robot cafe in Tokyo is remotely controlled by disabled staff, and it’s incredible

robot cafe

Being waited on by robot is something that we all imagine might be possible in the distant future, but one cafe in Tokyo is already offering just that… with a twist. As Fast Company reports, a visit to the “Dawn ver.β” will put you face-to-face with robot waiters that take orders from customers and deliver food to their tables.

It’s all very futuristic, but the twist here is that the robots aren’t powered by AI or some advanced automation system. Instead, they’re controlled remotely by human staff with severe disabilities working right from their own homes. The cafe, which is the result of a partnership between the Nippon Foundation, Ory Lab Inc, and ANA Holdings, is already a big hit, and its creators have big plans for the future.

The robots, made by Ory Lab, are radio controlled at the cafe and a system relays information back and forth between the bot and the human controller. The bots are easy to handle using a computer interface via a tablet or traditional screen, and it allows the disabled staff to work without having to leave their homes.

Sleek and futuristic, the bots have color-coded eyes for identification and are fully capable of moving about the cafe on pre-determined paths, interacting with customers, and delivering orders. Built-in text-to-voice features let the controllers communicate just as they might if they were there in person. They’re not particularly fast, as you can see in the video above, but they definitely get the job done.

The cafe, which its creators say enables individuals with disabilities to engage in “physical work and social participation” is still brand new and something of an experiment for the companies involved. In the future, the companies hope to launch a permanent version of the cafe in time for the Olympics and Paralympics coming to Tokyo in 2020