Ory Laboratory Inc.
Photo: Ory Laboratory Inc.

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

Opening in Nihonbashi this month, Dawn Avatar Robot Café 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, this café set to open in Nihonbashi on June 22 will feature real humanoid robots waiting on customers and serving food and drink. It's not a gimmick, though: Dawn Avatar Robot Café will operate as an accessible business by creating more job opportunities for disabled workers.

Robot cafe
Photo: Ory Laboratory Inc.

This is how it works. These robots are operated remotely using via the internet, serving as avatars for people 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.

The innovative café is the latest venture of Ory Laboratory Inc., a Japanese robotics company working to create an accessible 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 some 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 people who are immobilised will have the option of working 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 society.  

Dawn Avatar Robot Café will be open to the general public from 10am to 7pm (last order 6.30pm) starting June 22. For more information, visit here

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