If you grew up watching The Jetsons, you probably wanted a robot maid like Rosie. Although the Jetsons was largely based in fantasy, robot waiters are becoming more and more commonplace. They are already used in several cafes, such as Naulo restaurant in Nepal which has employed three humanoid waiters called ‘Gingers’.
Taking the technology even further is a startup called Ory Lab.
This month a Dawn Ver Beta cafe was opened up Tokyo, Japan for two weeks. It used Orly Lab’s robots to serve customers and the most brilliant part about the cafe is that all of the robots were remotely controlled by severely disabled people, for the sole purpose of helping disabled people gain more independence in their lives.
There were 10 people working at the cafe. The employees suffered from diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other spinal cord injuries. They operated 4-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 had the ability to 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.
However 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.