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Japanese Cafe Found A Way To Employ Paralysed People As Waiters

Most every time robots and automation are mentioned, it’s alongside warnings of how the technology is going to take away human jobs.

So it’s refreshing to see that there’s at least one instance where humans and robots are working together for human betterment.

The heartwarming story comes from the Dawn Cafe in Tokyo. Point to note, it’s actually a beta experiment masquerading as a cafe, for a few days in November and December. At the Dawn (Diverse Avatar Working Network) Cafe, patrons are served their coffee orders by the OriHime-D robots, developed by robotics startup Ory. But it’s who’s piloting the bots that makes it interesting.

As part of this experiment, the robots have been fitted with remote controls, hooked up to patients that are paralyzed. The 4-foot-tall bots are equipped with cameras, microphones, and speakers, so the paraplegic pilots can see and hear what the robots can. They can them remotely talk to customers, serve orders, and move the bots around.

These pilots include ALS patients, people with spinal cord injuries, as well as other debilitating conditions. The best part is, they don’t even need to hold a controller. Using just their eyes, they can pilot the bots, and it’s all happening over the Internet.

The cafe just completed two rounds of beta tests over the past couple of weeks, showing that the concept is certainly doable. Most importantly though, it uses robots to let people otherwise incapable of moving earn money, and without any specific job training. Even those with only eye movement capabilities were able to communicate with customers using gaze-controlled text interfaces, that the robots could then vocalize.

Interestingly, the Dawn cafe was also specifically designed to look like a fictional cafe from the 2008 anime series Time of Eve. In the series, humans and androids co-exist peacefully and treat each other as equals.

Source: India Times