Robot cafe
Photo: Ory Laboratory Inc.

This new Tokyo cafe has robot waiters controlled remotely by disabled workers

Opening in Nihonbashi in June, Dawn Avatar Robot Cafe is looking to create a barrier-free and inclusive Tokyo

Emma Steen

Unlike Shinjuku’s Robot Restaurant, where humans dressed as robots put on a dinner show, a new café set to open this summer in Nihonbashi will feature real robot humanoids waiting on customers and serving food and drink. It's not a gimmick, though: Dawn Avatar Robot Café will operate as a barrier-free business by creating more job opportunities for disabled workers.

This is how it works. These robots are operated remotely using internet connection, serving as avatars for individuals who can’t leave the house for long periods of time due to physical disabilities, childcare or other conditions.  

Robot Cafe
Photo: Ory Laboratory Inc.

This innovative café is the latest venture of Ory Laboratory Inc, a Japanese robotics company working to create a barrier-free society. Company co-founder and CEO Kentaro Yoshifuji got the idea to design robot avatars from his own struggles of being bed-ridden in hospital for the greater part of three years. 

The OriHime-D robots, as they’re called, are 120cm tall and equipped with a camera, microphone and speaker to allow them to ‘speak’ and receive orders as they move around a space.

In today’s world, it’s difficult for certain people to participate in society in the traditional sense due to the standardised systems employed at most companies or the physical risks involved with navigating a busy metropolis like Tokyo. As the robots can be controlled just through eye-movement, even immobilised individuals will have the option of taking up a job in the hospitality industry. This is a significant breakthrough as it would not only give them more opportunities to interact with others but also make them feel accepted and welcome in the society. 

We will keep you updated when the opening date and the exact location are confirmed.

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