A cafe featuring robot waiters remotely controlled from home by people with severe physical disabilities has been launched in Minato Ward, Tokyo.
Five robots measuring 1.2 meters tall, controlled by people with conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neuron disease, took orders and served food as the cafe opened Monday on a trial basis.
The OriHime-D robots transmit video images and audio via the internet, allowing their controllers to direct them from home via computer.
“(The robots) enable physical work and social participation,” said Kentaro Yoshifuji, CEO of Ory Lab Inc., the developer of the robot and one of the three entities organizing the cafe.
Ten people with ALS will earn ¥1,000 an hour controlling the robots.
The three entities, including the Nippon Foundation and ANA Holdings Inc., aim to launch a permanent cafe by the time the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics roll around.
The organizers said Monday they have also formed a partnership to further promote employment assistance for people with disabilities by utilizing remotely controlled robots.
“(Avatar robots) have potential … for transportation and communication,” ANA Holdings Chairman Shinichiro Ito said.