Cafe in Japan Hires Paralyzed People to Control Robot Servers

A cafe with an all-robot staff controlled by paralyzed people has opened in Tokyo.

The cafe, called Dawn ver.β, held its ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 26.Ten people with conditions like ALS and other spinal cord injuries are currently employed at Dawn, according to Sankei.

From home, they operate the OriHime-D, a 120-centimeter (4-foot) robot that communicates, moves around, and handles objects. Behind the OriHime-D is Ory, a startup that develops robotics for disabled people.

In a video, a paralyzed man is seen “typing” commands through his eyes. The OriHime-D can also be used by people involved in childcare, nursing care, or other activities that prevent them from leaving home or a certain location.

“Even those who can’t go out can work through this alter ego and have a role in society,” Ory noted.

Dawn (Diverse Avatar Working Network), based on the same cafe in the 2008 anime “Time of Eve,” imagines a coffee shop where humans and robots interact as equals, SoraNews24 noted.

The cafe, located in the Japanese capital’s Akasaka District, is a joint effort between Ory, All Nippon Airways (ANA), the Nippon Foundation, and the Avatar Robotic Consultative Association (ARCA). For their service, each operator is paid 1,000 yen ($8.80) an hour, the standard wage for part-time work in Japan.

However, Dawn will only run until Dec. 7 — as the beta in its name suggests.

The cafe relied on crowdfunding ahead of its opening, collecting more than twice its 1.5 million yen ($13,000) goal. With continued support, a full opening is expected in 2020.

Dawn opens on Dec. 3 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m..

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