People With Physical Disabilities Control Robot Waiters in Tokyo

We’ve seen restaurants around the world employing robot waiters in an attempt to make up for a lack of human workers. One café in Tokyo’s Akasaka district is a bit different. It’s using robots to help employ people with physical disabilities who may not be able to work otherwise.


OriHime-D Robot Waiter Controlled By People With Disablities - YellRobot
credit: Japan Times

OriHime-D Robot Waiter is Controlled Remotely

Developed by Ory Laboratory, the OriHime-D robot will be serving food at the Dawn ver. Beta café in Tokyo for a two week trial period in November. The robot waiters are serving as proxies for disabled human employees will be controlling them remotely via their laptops or personal computers. For those suffering from diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the OriHime can even be controlled by eye movement.

The robots transmit video and audio real time over the internet so users can control them from their home. The OriHime-D turn its head, move its arms and even shows emotion with facial expressions.

Standing 4 feet tall and weighing about 45 pounds, the OriHime-D is equipped with sensors, cameras, and microphones which help the remote employees interact with customers and the environment as if they were really there in the restaurant.


credit: Japan Times

Robot Waiters Help Connect

The robot was partially inspired by CEO Kentaro Yoshifuji’s experience as a child where he had trouble communicating and felt isolated at times due to a stress-induced illness. He began developing robots as a way of connecting people who may otherwise be left out.

Yoshifuji said “I want to create a world in which people who can’t move their bodies can work too,”

During a demonstration back in August, Nozomi Murata, who has autophagic vacuolar myopathy, a debilitating disease that weakens the muscles was able to control the robot and invite customers to try some chocolate.

The café will be open weekdays between Nov.26 and Dec.7. The Ory Laboratory plans to open a permanent cafe featuring its robots right before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.


Check out our articles on robot waiters in Nepal and drones delivering coffee.