One of Japan’s most popular fast-food chains is turning to robots in a new test program. But their goal isn’t to cut down on human labor. Its quite the opposite. They are helping those that are disabled or stuck home due to COVID-19 have the opportunity to work.
Mos Burger, a burger chain based in Tokyo, is employing a new robot named OriHime. The robot will be controlled remotely by people with disabilities. In a demonstration shown to the media, a man and a woman with incurable diseases introduced the chain’s menu and took orders while at home using OriHime who features a high-resolution camera and microphone.
OriHime comes from Tokyo based Ory Lab. The robot stands 2 feet tall, weighs about 1.5 pounds, and can be controlled in real-time over wifi. MOS Burger hopes the robot system will help people who cannot travel due to reasons such as a disability, lack of childcare, old age, or sickness have the opportunity to work. It is also expected to serve as a preventive measure against the coronavirus.
OriHime Robot Will Work Register; Be Controlled Remotely
OriHime will be working the register, taking orders, and answering questions the customer might have about the menu. Of course the robot will be dressed in uniform, with a neatly tied apron, jaunty cap, and a “wakaba mark,” the green-and-yellow leaf-shaped insignia that denotes trainees.
The company will test the robots at a Mos Burger restaurant in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward for four hours on weekday afternoons Monday through Friday. The program will last up until late August. No word on if the robots will appear at other MOS Burger locations.
This isn’t the first time Ory Lab has helped those with disabilities to work remotely. Back in 2018, their robot waiters served as proxies at a Tokyo cafe. Disabled human employees were able to control them remotely via tablets and laptops. A few who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) were even able to control the robots via eye movement.