The robot waiters in this Japanese cafe are controlled by people with paralysis

Whether it’s autonomous delivery bots dropping off pizza, robo-bartenders, or automated waiters, it’s clear that robots have a growing place in the food industry. But a new Japanese pop-up cafe located in Tokyo offers a far more uncommon — and potentially transformative — spin on this premise. Called Dawn ver.β, the temporary eatery is staffed by robot waiters operated remotely by paralyzed individuals, who can control the robots from their own homes. The cafe is based on the 2008 anime Time of Eve, set in a future in which androids are commonplace.

The four-foot-tall OriHime-D robots were built by Ory, a Japanese startup focused on developing robotics for people with disabilities. The robots can reportedly be made to move, look around, speak with customers, and carry objects, even when their operator is only able to control his or her eyes. The staff of 10 people, whose conditions range from spinal cord injuries to ALS, are paid 1,000 yen per hour. Equating to $8.80 in the U.S., this is the standard wage for part-time work in Japan.

The goal of the project isn’t about getting cheap labor, however. It’s a pilot scheme intended to give independence to people who might otherwise not have the chance to be involved with anything like this. Their ability to interact directly with clientele at the cafe is touted as a big part of the project’s appeal.

Unfortunately, Dawn is only a short-term trial right now. The cafe will close its doors at the end of the week, after a trial opening period lasting for around two weeks. The funding for this trial was partly raised through crowdfunding, along with support from several companies. Going forward, the hope is that a permanent Dawn cafe will open sometime in 2020. That obviously depends on the extent to which this demonstration has proved a success.

In all, it’s certainly an interesting idea. So-called telepresence robots already provide a way for people who are, for whatever reason, excluded from a certain activity to take part. These robots, which frequently include features like two-way video, cameras, microphones, and speakers, have been used in schools to help chronically ill kids to attend class. They’ve even been used as part of graduation ceremonies. Could a permanent restaurant be the next frontier?

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (December 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Gaming

These are all the best trailers and new games revealed at The Game Awards 2018

The Game Awards 2018 featured a ton of new game reveals and announcements. From Mortal Kombat 11 to Far Cry New Dawn to a surprise new fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, The Game Awards gave us plenty to get excited for.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.