Singapore firm's robot baristas to serve coffee at JR East stations

13, Jan. 2021

Photo shows the robotic arm of autonomous coffee-serving system
Photo shows the robotic arm of autonomous coffee-serving system "ELLA" developed by Singapore's Crown Technologies. (Photo courtesy of Crown Technologies)

SINGAPORE, NNA - East Japan Railway Co. has acquired an equity stake in Crown Technologies with a view to using the Singapore retail tech startup's fully autonomous robotic baristas to serve coffee at railway stations in Japan.

JR East Business Development SEA Pte. Ltd., a local subsidiary of the major Japanese railway operator known as JR East, said Tuesday it bought Crown Technologies shares at an undisclosed price in a deal intended to introduce the ELLA system, capable of serving 200 cups of coffee per hour, to JR East stations.

By combining artificial intelligence, internet of things and robotic arm technologies, the system allows unmanned, contactless coffee selling 24 hours a day through a completely automated ordering, serving and cashless payment process.

JR East plans to test the system at a station as part of its market research before establishing robo-baristas at kiosks, seeking to service shrinking passenger traffic and cater to growing consumer preference for contactless services in the aftermath of the new coronavirus epidemic.

"ELLA ensures safety in the post-COVID landscape as she operates in a sealed chamber and is contactless," said Toshio Omiyama, managing director of the JR East subsidiary. (NNA/Kyodo)