The disruptive technology of robots doesn’t necessary equal taking away people’s jobs. For severely disabled people living in Japan, the ability to work remotely is made possible with the assistance of robots. Inspired by a popular anime, one innovative cafe has integrated robotic waitstaff controlled by human operators.

Power through proxies

When the CEO of Orly Lab Inc., Kentaro Yoshifuji, became involved with the Dawn Ver Beta project in Tokyo, it was a chance to create a new potential line of work for those with severe disabilities. Kentaro created his robotic startup company for its ability to “create a world in which people who can’t move their bodies can work too.”

Lifeboat Foundation

The robots that serve customers at the Dawn Ver Beta cafe are controlled via computers, and allow their human controllers to see and speak to customers.

Rebooting remote work

The employees at the Dawn Ver Beta cafe live with ALS or other spinal conditions which inhibit mobility. The chance to work remotely using robots was an exciting opportunity. Usually, many of those employed by the Dawn Ver Beta cafe would be unable to interact with many people comfortably.

Using four-foot tall robots that are controlled via eye movements captured by a computer, customers can be given menus, and have their orders taken. All employees are paid a wage of 1,000 Yen, or about $9 an hour.

Pop-up to permanent

Seeing robot waitstaff like the OriHime-D at Dawn Ver Beta in Tokyo is not an unusual event, as humans embrace robots in their everyday life. The pop-up cafe project lasted a total of two weeks.

The cafe’s success serves as a testament to the power of technology to give disabled persons more independence, and restore the ability to work. Customers and employees enjoyed the experience of the Dawn Ver Beta cafe, so creators are working to make the cafe a permanent fixture in 2020.