(AI타임스=박혜섭 기자) After the launching of Henn na Hotel, H.I.S. received a lot of attention by opening a robot café (also named the Henn na Café) in February 2018 where next to its’ travel agency branch in Shibuya. Although it seemed to be enjoying popular acclaim at the time of opening, it did not persist after complaints swept away and the customers started to disappear.
In the afternoon of 18th, most tables in the Henn na Café were empty. Despite being a cafe where only robots work, from ordering to manufacturing to serving, ‘Churi’ robot was out of order. Furthermore, cookies and other commodity shelves were off.
Standing in front of the vending machine, the device started working. A large screen showed lists of coffee available. Prices were about relatively inexpensive at about 320 yen each. After purchasing desired drink ticket and placing paper cup, the robot scanned QR code and processed the order.
The barista robot took paper cup to a coffee machine, pressed the start button, and produced the drink by itself. Total process took about 3-4 minutes to draw a cup of coffee.
Compare to large franchise coffee companies, the taste was not very different but it was not great either. Even after one hour passed, there were not many customers coming into Henn na Café.
Now the number of customers using the ‘Henn na Café’ decreases rapidly. Many people say because the depth of taste falls.
One customer said, “I believe that coffee tastes must be deep and devoted,” and added, “if your business is about human food, don't forget that taste is more important than services by AI robots.”
The inconvenience of robot operation is also contributing to the decrease customer rate.
If paper cup was not placed properly in the cup holder, the robot could not recognize it. Also seniors who are unfamiliar to use ‘Kiosk’ the unmanned paying system, have a hard time ordering.
An official of Henn na Café said, “We understand the current inconvenient problems and will keep working on technical deficiencies.”