Drink ven­dor with ro­botic arm a first for city

Shanghai Daily - - METRO - Hu Min

SHANG­HAI’S first robot­i­cally en­hanced cafe and cock­tail bar has been given the go-ahead to op­er­ate by the Huangpu District mar­ket au­thor­i­ties.

At Ra­tio, lo­cated in­side the K11 shop­ping cen­ter, cus­tomers or­der drinks via an app and are then served by a ro­botic arm. Cof­fee prepa­ra­tion and cock­tail mix­ing are also han­dled by ma­chine.

The me­chan­i­cal ap­pendage is about 70 per­cent more ef­fi­cient than a hu­man worker, ac­cord­ing to the es­tab­lish­ment’s op­er­a­tor.

The Ra­tio is the first busi­ness of its kind in Shang­hai. More than 60 drinks are on its menu, in­clud­ing the latte for 28 yuan (US$4.38) and cap­puc­cino for 31 yuan.

As this new ven­ture was first de­vel­op­ing, tech­ni­cal ex­perts with the cafe en­tered con­sul­ta­tions re­gard­ing con­sumer safety and ser­vice with the Huangpu District Mar­ket Su­per­vi­sion and Man­age­ment Bureau.

As no sim­i­lar ven­dor ex­ists to serve as a ref­er­ence, bureau of­fi­cials held nu­mer­ous meet­ings with the Shang­hai Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion on how to sup­port this in­no­va­tive es­tab­lish­ment. The bureau also pro­vided sug­ges­tions on how to pre­vent food safety risks and ma­chine ac­ci­dents.

Ra­tio of­fers cof­fee dur­ing the day and cock­tails at night. On av­er­age, its ma­chines can serve a cock­tail in 90 sec­onds. It can also pro­duce two lat­tes in an equal amount of time, ac­cord­ing to own­ers.

“We con­ducted sev­eral thou­sand tests on grab­bing dif­fer­ent types of glasses by the ro­botic arm, be­cause grab­bing glasses is much more dif­fi­cult than pa­per cups,” said Gavin Pathross, who opened the cafe. “Many times, the glasses were bro­ken dur­ing the tests.”

“We want to re­lieve staff from repet­i­tive work and spend more time de­vel­op­ing new recipes and help­ing con­sumers pick the best ra­tio of drinks and the best fla­vor,” he said.

On the cafe’s app, con­sumers can cus­tom­ize their or­der by se­lect­ing the ra­tio of cof­fee beans, milk and sweet­ness.

“At the same time, the use of ma­chines also en­sures that the cof­fee and cock­tails we serve are stan­dard­ized,” said Pathross.

“Rather than tast­ing the cof­fee, I am more in­ter­ested in watch­ing how the arm pre­pares drinks,” said An­gela Li, a nearby of­fice worker.

“The process is fun and ef­fi­cient as I get my cof­fee more quickly than at tra­di­tional chain cafes,” she said.

Ra­tio, Shang­hai’s first robot­i­cally en­hanced cafe and cock­tail bar, has over 60 drinks on its menu. The es­tab­lish­ment’s high-tech serv­ing arm is said to be about 70 per­cent more ef­fi­cient than a hu­man worker.

— Ti Gong

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