South Korean café’s robot barista could be an example of an old investor adage

South Korea is slowly transitioning from intensive social distancing rules towards what the government calls “distancing in daily life”. In support of these new rules, a café in Daejeon, South Korea has hired a barista robot which is able to make 60 different types of coffee and serves the drinks to customers at their seats. The only human employee of the café is a baker who is additionally doing the cleaning and ingredients refilling duties.

 

The barista robot was developed by Vision Semicon, a smart factory solution provider, together with a state-run science institute. The system uses a robotic arm and a serving robot that can also communicate and transmit data to other devices and contains self-driving technology to calculate the best routes around the café.

 

The producer aims to expand the concept to 30 other coffee shops and expects very positive turn-outs as the barista robot is very efficient, reducing client’s waiting time to below 10 minutes.

The deployment of robots may be the only way to save the hospitality industry if no vaccine can be found or developed for mass inoculation against Covid-19, or indeed other highly contagious diseases of the future. The increasing introduction of robots, such as the barista, are a boon for technology companies, and may well be welcomed by investors and coffee shop owners alike. In the case of the robot barista, it is also fast and fun.

However, there is a slight concern that post the Covid-19 pandemic, the trend for robots replacing human jobs in sectors where the main prized skill is often EQ rather than IQ will create unwelcome short term political and economic pressures. The barista robot and its no doubt up and coming ilk will have an impact on the availability of work for humans in what are, in the end, skilled to semi-skilled job markets. 

There is an irony in that what investors and entrepreneurs welcome, governments may turn out to abhor and that the very same investors and entrepreneurs governments are desperate to attract, may have to be shunned, at least for a year of two. Perhaps the barista will become an example for investors of…’if only your timing is wrong…you are still wrong’.

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