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Japanese cafe lets paralysed workers control robots remotely

IF YOU ARE paralysed or have some kind of restricted movement, one of the biggest problems you’ll face is earning money to pay for your care. A trial in Japan has come up with a very clever solution to the problem, letting paralysed users remotely control robot waiters and be paid for their trouble.

The Dawn Ver cafe’s robots can be controlled remotely, and be told to do pretty much everything human staff would: they can move around, carry things and talk to visitors – though flirting with customers probably won’t get the same kind of tip response when patrons can’t see the human behind the cold, dead robot eyes.

A total of ten human workers are taking part in the trial, who have conditions ranging from spinal cord injuries to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Such health problems would usually be a huge bar to finding work, but according to the BBC, the four-foot-tall OriHime-D robots used in the cafe can be controlled with just the eyes in extreme cases.

Rather than a loss of jobs or depressed wages – a future that cheery optimists believe awaits us when robots become mainstream – the staff controlling the robots earn 1,000 yen per hours. That’s around £7, or the standard rate for waiting staff in the country.

There is a catch, though: the cafe is only open for two weeks for its experimental phase. Once it closes again, the creators plan to try and crowdfund a permanent opening in two years’ time, but that step relies on people stumping up for the project.

Hopefully people have a good enough experience at the Dawn Ver cafe that the fundraising target is met and the staff get to virtually reunite via robot avatars again in 2020. µ

Source : Inquirer

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