Akihabara News (Tokyo) — JR East has reached an agreement with a Singapore-based startup to deploy AI-powered robot baristas to selected train stations by July.
The Singapore firm, called Crown Technologies, counts its arrangement with JR East as its first major business deal since its launch. The unmanned robot barista, named Ella, can make up to two hundred cups of coffee per hour, and is designed for contactless retail operations in a high-volume environment. It can operate around the clock if called upon to do so.
Ella takes orders through a mobile app, and it makes coffee as well as specialty drinks. When completed, the robot barista notifies customers that their order is ready and serves the drink. The entire process is autonomous and contactless.
It was designed before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, but fits in very well with contemporary health concerns.
On the AI front, Ella uses predictive analytics to forecast coffee serving demand, and is monitored to ensure that there are no malfunctions.
The financial terms of the agreement between JR East and Crown Technologies have not been released.