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Cafe opens with robot waiters remotely controlled by disabled people

Cafe opens with robot waiters remotely controlled by disabled people

TOKYO

A cafe featuring robot waiters remotely controlled from home by people with severe physical disabilities opened Monday in Tokyo's Minato Ward.

Five robots, 1.2 meters tall, controlled by disabled people with conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neuron disease, took orders and served food at the cafe that opened on a trial basis.

The cafe, which will be open until Dec. 7, deploys OriHime-D robots that transmit video footage and audio via the internet, allowing their controllers to direct them from home via tablets or computers.

"The robots enable physical work and social participation," Kentaro Yoshifuji, CEO of Ory Lab Inc, the developer of the robot and one of the three organizers of the cafe, said at a press conference.

Ten people will work shifts for 1,000 yen per hour.

The three entities, including the Nippon Foundation and ANA Holdings Inc., aim to launch a permanent cafe by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The organizers said Monday they have also formed a partnership to further promote employment assistance for disabled people by utilizing remotely controlled robots.

"Avatar robots have potential...for transportation and communication," ANA Holdings chairman Shinichiro Ito said.