In 2015, Henn-na Hotel, the first ever hotel run by robots, was opened in Japan. It became a huge success which led to the opening of another business venture run by robots called “HENNA-CAFE.” This cafe was opened on February 1, 2018, in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. Unlike ordinary cafes, HENNA-CAFE serves its customers with the help of a robot barista. Besides serving coffee, the robot interacts with customers by greeting and asking them what coffee they like.
Robotics is a pillar of Japan’s growth strategy, thus having robot staff is a no-brainer in the country. The Henn-na Hotel that opened in Nagasaki proved that robots can actually run a hotel, saving labor cost. Some people may think that using robots is merely part of the company’s gimmick to attract customers, but it is also a serious effort to be more efficient with the use of technology. Delivery robots are also being used by some restaurants in delivering food items to hungry diners.
HENNA-CAFE, or “Strange Cafe” in Japanese, recently opened in Tokyo. It has a robot barista named “Sawyer” – a creation of Rethink Robotics and is considered the first fully integrated collaborative robot solution.
Just like ordinary baristas, Sawyer also greets customers with “Hello, would you like some delicious coffee?” It has an attached screen where you can see its human-like expressions.
There is a menu of around seven drinks to choose from. Customers just need to present their QR code tickets and Sawyer will begin to prepare the beverage. The robot barista will grab a paper cup, move it towards the coffee machine, and press the start button. Once the coffee is ready, it will be placed on the reception counter. This whole process will normally take only three minutes. A cup of coffee costs 320 yen, which is comparably lower than that of other coffee shops.
Aside from serving coffee, Sawyer can also clean filters and discard coffee beans. Continuous study is being done in order for the robot to have smoother movements.
So if you’d like to grab a cup of coffee on your next trip to Tokyo, why don’t you drop by this quirky cafe? Let this be your first experience of being served coffee by an actual robot!
・100 Things to Do in Shibuya, Tokyo’s Fashionable Metropolis, in 2018