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Industry Insights: The Japanese Robot Edition

Industry Insights: The Japanese Robot Edition

Industry Insights: The Japanese Robot Edition

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Did you know that the history of robotics stretches back 2,400 years? The first robot was a steam-powered “pigeon,” created around 400 to 350 BCE by the ancient Greek mathematician Archytas, known as the father of engineering. He was using the robot to study birds in flight. Long since the world of engineering has created all kinds of automated machinery to enhance everyday living but there is still a long way to go before we live in the futuristic world of Blade Runner.

This year, a new type of robot was introduced within a craft that may be considered difficult for a human-substitute to replicate – coffee serving. Japan has opened a new robot cafe where customers can enjoy coffee brewed and served by a robot barista. Now we’re not talking robotics as in a coffee machine but one which speaks and interacts whilst creating a manual brewed cup of Joe.

The robot named Sawyer debuted recently at Henna Cafe in Tokyo's downtown business and shopping district of Shibuya. The shop's name in Japanese means 'strange cafe.' The single-armed robot scans a ticket purchased from a vending machine and greets the customer. It grinds the coffee beans, fills a filter and pours hot water over a paper cup for up to five people at once. A cup of brewed coffee costs 320 yen ($3) and takes a few minutes.

Sawyer can also operate an automated machine for six other hot drinks including cappuccino, hot chocolate and green tea latte. He bats his screen-cartoon eyes and asks things such as; “Would you care for a delicious coffee?”, in a flat tone and “I can make one better than human beings around here.”

The cafe operator, travel agency H.I.S. Co., says robots can increase productivity while also entertaining customers. “An essential point is to increase productivity,” said Masataka Tamaki, general manager of corporate planning at H.I.S. He said only one person needs to oversee the robot cafe, compared to several people needed at a regular coffee shop, so it can serve better quality coffee at a reasonable price.

So there you have it folks, the all new robot barista that’s not too hard to swallow. Perhaps the real phenomenon will be the full AI manned cafes and restaurants of the future…

Stay tuned for our next blog in the series of Industry Insights and be sure to follow us on social media at mycoffeeplanet.