The man who came up with a robot barista to solve manpower use.
Ella, the robot barista is the brainchild of Keith Tan, who decided to develop a robot to reduce the use of manpower in his coffee chain.
After the customers placed their orders through the mobile application, Ella will start working. Firstly, by stretching out her arms to pick up a paper cup before turning to place it on top of the coffee maker. Within minutes, a hot cup of coffee was ready.
Ella then places the cup on a “pigeonhole”, from where customers can collect their drinks after scanning a QR code. In that case, the whole process is touchless.
Ella is focused on fulfilling the order as quickly as possible. She does not rest, works 24 hours a day, and can make up to 200 cups of coffee in only an hour.
More than just a six-axis robotic arm, Ella uses Internet of Things related software that has its own mobile app, payment gateway and e-wallet. The artificial intelligence-enabled vision system also monitors operations around the clock to detect abnormalities such as spills, while in-depth learning and predictive analytics help with supply chain needs such as refills at kiosks.
HOW IT START FROM CAFE TO TECH FIRM?
Between taking an order at the cashier and serving coffee, an idea erupted. “If I can automate ordering by adding a robot arm to do all the movement and pack this whole system into a very small footprint, where I solve the rental issue and it eliminates people completely, then I have a fully autonomous solution, and it can run 24/7. So that’s is how Ella is started to built.”
The idea grew when he opened a second branch at DHL’s innovation center and came face to face with a collaboration robot called Baxter. He tried to program a robot to pick up chocolate croissants, marking his first experience with automation.
A group of regular customers also helped. After hearing about the idea, they used the firm’s Internet of Things group which then connected Mr Tan to various hardware and software vendors.
This matchmaking by Intel is “a lot of help,” the businessman said, noting that it may be very difficult for traditional businesses to embark on a digital transformation without help.
By 2017, the first version of Ella had been created and it made its debut at a trade show held at Marina Bay Sands.
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