AUTOMATED: Customers place the order and pay for their coffee via the Ella app on their mobile device

Rail passengers at Tokyo and Yokohama stations in Japan can now order, collect and pay for coffee made by a six-armed AI-powered robot barista — known as Ella — at a fully automated contactless coffee shop.

Customers can place the order and pay for their coffee on their mobile device via the Ella app and then receive a QR code to scan at the collection point to ensure they receive the correct drink.

Regular users can also set up a dedicated digital wallet, purchase a subscription bundle and receive reward points and personalised recommendations.

Rail company JR East has opened the two coffee shops using robot technology developed by Singapore-based retail systems provider Crown Digital that uses “an ecosystem comprising patented proprietary internet of things-connected software and external hardware that upgrades the coffee experience with speed, convenience, quality and consistency, while engaging the user by utilising immersive digital touchpoints”.

“While Ella is preparing the coffee, an integrated OLED screen opens up a myriad of possibilities — from serving as an augmented reality photobooth to displaying customised dynamic advertising that is targeted to the end-user’s profile or even indulging the end-user in a quick game or two,” Crown Digital says.

“On the backend, computer vision powered by artificial intelligence is monitoring the kiosk 24/7 for any abnormalities that may affect Ella’s operations.

“Meanwhile a fulfilment module, powered by its own mobile app, uses deep learning and predictive analytics to digitise the supply chain.”

A short video shows the robot barista at work.

JR East says it will consider rolling out the contactless coffee shops to other stations in Japan early next year, while Crown Digital is planning to open outlets at 30 stations on Singapore’s mass rapid transport network by the end of 2022.

JR East launches contactless coffee shop with AI-powered robot barista was written by Tom Phillips and published by NFCW.

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