Robot Baristas Serve Japanese, Singaporean Commuters

Image credit: iStockphoto/sarawuth702

Coffee-loving commuters in Singapore and Japan are drinking coffee made by robot baristas created by Singaporean company Crown Digital.

The startup recently secured funding in a new round from a slew of investors, including the Singapore Government’s Temasek and Momentum Venture, with the new capital to scale up and expand the army of robot baristas positioned in train stations.

Since February 2022, robot barista Ella has been serving up coffee at a kiosk at the Raffles MRT station, and there are plans to expand to 30 stations in the Singapore network by the end of the year.

Other Singaporean food and beverage businesses are also ‘hiring’ the robots, with one dubbed the Super Manual creating perfect lattes at a store on fashionable Orchard Road.

In Japan, Crown Digital is collaborating with the East Japan Railway to test a robot barista at the Tokyo and Yokohama Stations.

Consumers order on a touch screen and choose from more than 200 coffee and chocolate drinks combinations, and the machine can provide 200 cups per hour.

The dimensions are three meters wide and 1.5 meters deep, and the robot is fully automatic and takes cashless payments from cards and smartphones.

An artificial intelligence-powered vision system monitors its performance with live analytics, and the robots have sensors that can detect spillage and understand when their supplies are low.

The robot baristas were developed by Crown Digital chief executive Keith Tan, who encountered issues of high labor and rental costs at an earlier café venture. This experience prompted him to look into robotics.

“I realized the need for automation in order to scale up,” Tan recently told the Singapore Straits Times.

The robot baristas are just the first stage in the development of Crown Digital, and Tan says the company’s next project is the further automation of food preparation.

Image credit: iStockphoto/sarawuth702