Robots Controlled by Severely Disabled to Serve Cafe Visitors

Society Lifestyle

Tokyo, Aug. 22 (Jiji Press)--The Nippon Foundation, a charity group, said Wednesday that it will run an experimental coffee shop where visitors will be served by robots remotely controlled by people with severe physical disabilities, including patients of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

The cafe--Dawn ver. beta--will be open on the first floor of the foundation's building in Tokyo's Minato Ward from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7.

The camera- and speaker-equipped robot, called the OriHime-D, is controlled via the Internet for operations including taking orders and serving coffee. Even people who can only move their eyes, such as ALS patients in later stages, are able to control the robot thanks to an eye-tracking input system.

The OriHime-D is also expected to help open job opportunities for people who need to stay home to care for family members or other reasons, the foundation said.

Using a communication board, ALS patient Hiroki Okabe, former head of the Japan ALS Association, told a press conference that such an avatar robot "means a lot and gives a big hope" to people who lost motor functions.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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