Barista robot begins serving coffee at new cafe in Japan

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Japan has a new robot cafe where customers can enjoy coffee brewed and served by a robot barista.

The robot named Sawyer debuted this week 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.

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Robot barista named ‘Sawyer’ makes a coffee at Henn-na Cafe, meaning ‘Strange Cafe’ in Japanese, in Tokyo, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. The cafe’s robot barista brews and serves coffee as the rapidly aging country seeks to adapt to shrinking workforce

‘Would you care for a delicious coffee?’ the barista, with a screen showing a pair of cartoon eyes, asks in a flat tone. 

‘I can make one better than human beings around here.’

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.

The arm robot 'Sawyer' debuted this week in Tokyo's downtown business and shopping district of Shibuya

The arm robot ‘Sawyer’ debuted this week in Tokyo’s downtown business and shopping district of Shibuya

Customers, many of them young men, took photos with their smartphones while they waited in line.

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.

Japan has a new robot cafe where customers can enjoy coffee brewed and served by a robot barista. The robot named Sawyer debuted thi week at Henna Cafe in Tokyo's downtown business and shopping district of Shibuya.

Japan has a new robot cafe where customers can enjoy coffee brewed and served by a robot barista. The robot named Sawyer debuted this week at Henna Cafe in Tokyo’s downtown business and shopping district of Shibuya

HOW DOES A ONE-ARMED ROBOT MAKE AND SERVE COFFEE?

Sawyer is a single-arm robot designed to carry out tasks that wouldn’t be practical to automate with traditional industrial robots, according to Rethink Robotics.

At the new Henna Cafe in Tokyo’s downtown business and shopping district of Shibuya, that task is serving coffee.  

A cup of brewed coffee served by Sawyer costs 320 yen ($3) and takes a few minutes

A cup of brewed coffee served by Sawyer costs 320 yen ($3) and takes a few minutes

It grinds the coffee beans, fills a filter and pours hot water over a paper cup for up to five people at once. 

Sawyer can also operate an automated machine for six other hot drinks including cappuccino, hot chocolate and green tea latte.  

The robot has a robotic arm with 7 degrees of freedom and a 1260 mm reach.

This allows it to move around in tight spaces typically designed for humans – like behind the counter at a café.

It can pick up the cups with its pincer-like grasper.

Tamaki says it’s not just about efficiency. 

‘We want the robot to entertain customers so it’s not like buying coffee at a vending machine,’ he said.

Takeshi Yamamoto, a 68-year-old restaurant employee who works in the neighborhood, said his first experience with the robot cafe was very enjoyable, and his robot-made coffee was delicious.

‘It’s quite rich, and tastes very good,’ Yamamoto said, as he took a sip. 

‘You can get machine-made coffee at convenience stores, too, and it’s actually good. But here, I had great fun.’

The single-armed robot scans a ticket purchased from a vending machine and greets the customer. The cafe operator, travel agency H.I.S. Co., says robots can increase productivity while also entertaining customers

The single-armed robot scans a ticket purchased from a vending machine and greets the customer. The cafe operator, travel agency H.I.S. Co., says robots can increase productivity while also entertaining customers





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