We recently featured the Henna Na hotel in an article about hotels staffed by robots. The hotel boasts over 150 robots and even has dinosaurs checking you in. The hotel chain has recently opened Japan’s first all robot café. Named Henna Café (which translates to Strange Café), it’s located in downtown Tokyo’s Shibuya district.
Robot Cafe Staffed by Sawyer
The café’s star robot is named Sawyer and he was made in America by Boston based Rethink Robotics. Sawyer is a single arm collaborative robot with an attached interactive screen. He’s been working in factories and industrial sites, but now has become a barista at the robot cafe.
Sawyer greets the customers asking “Would you care for a delicious coffee?”. He does get a bit elitist claiming “I can make one better than human beings around here.”
Sawyer’s boasts might not be that far off as customers do love the coffee and the novelty of being served by a robot. Along with making the drinks, he fills the coffee beans and maintains the filters. There is one human on staff to oversee the robots.
$3 Robot Coffee
The ordering process is simple. Customers select their drink and receive a slip at a vending machine. Sawyer then scans the QR code and gets to work on your coffee. The process only takes a few minutes and a cup of coffee costs about $3.
Sawyer grinds the coffee beans, fills up the filter and pours hot water. The robot’s arm then grabs the paper cup, puts it under the coffee machine and presses a start button. When the drink is finished, Sawyer places it on the reception counter for the customer. If you want something like a latte or hot chocolate, the robot can also operate another machine that can make six different types of drinks.
While entertaining customers at this robot cafe, Sawyer has also proved to be very efficient. Japan has an aging population and there is hope that robots like these can be more than a novelty and help fill the labor gap.