Japan is the world leader when it comes to robots. Whether that is crazy tourist traps like this…
Or if it’s Japan’s beloved robots like ASIMO or Pepper.
This time, Japan has once again upped its level of ridiculous restaurants you can visit. A cafe will open in Tokyo’s Akasaka district in November featuring robot waiters remotely controlled from home by people with severe physical disabilities. The cafe, which will open on weekdays from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7, will deploy OriHime-D robots controlled by people with conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neuron disease.
The robots stand slightly short at 1.2 meters tall and weighing 20 kilograms and transmit video footage and audio via the internet, allowing their controllers to direct them from home on tablets or computers. At an event marking the OriHime-D’s debut in August, a robot controlled by Nozomi Murata, who suffers from autophagic vacuolar myopathy that causes muscle weakness, asked a family if they would like some chocolate.
“I want to create a world in which people who can’t move their bodies can work too,” said Kentaro Yoshifuji; chief executive officer of Ory Lab. Inc., and the developer of the robots.
Yoshifuji suffered from a stress-induced illness during childhood and had difficulty communicating. With his experience of social isolation, he started developing robots at Waseda University to help connect people, according to the company’s website.
Smaller OriHime robots that are 21.5 centimeters tall and weigh about 600 grams have been introduced by about 70 companies for telecommuting. They can also be used remotely in classrooms by students who cannot attend school due to illness or other reasons.
Ory Lab. aims to set up a permanent cafe featuring OriHime robots and increase adoption by companies in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
“Everyone should have the freedom to work in the way they like,” said Masatane Muto, an ALS patient and one of the organizers of the project, which also involves the Nippon Foundation.
“I want to send out the message toward 2020 that you can show hospitality even if you have disabilities,” Muto said.
Isn’t it nice to hear about robots creating jobs for people, rather than ‘stealing’ jobs from people?