Autonomous Robots Manage Starbucks in South Korea

100 robots employed in the offices of South Korean company Naver Corporation serve Starbucks items throughout the building autonomously.

Naver is an IT company from South Korea. A few weeks ago, the company shared a video of its unique Starbucks installation on the premises that’s not run by humans but by 100 autonomous robots. The company’s branch 1784 is the “world’s largest robotics testbed” and has a Starbucks on its second floor. The dual-arm robots called Rookie deliver coffee to meeting rooms and private seats.

This is a major step in the way of practical robotics that can be used to automate otherwise repetitive tasks that companies have. Of course, this means job loss. Naver 1784 is a company with 4,474 employees according to its RocketReach company profile. Considering the typical business of Starbucks all over the world, an average store has around 100 employees. Average employees per store: 381,000 / 36,171 ≈ 10.5 employees per store. This means that to serve 4,500 people in a building, the in-office Starbucks store will need 428 people.

In a way, the 100 Rookies took the job of 400+ humans. Plus, they can serve coffee day and night without tiring. There must be tens of thousands of companies that have 4000+ employees. When commercialized, such technology can be revolutionary for the employees working in these buildings, as their orders will be on-time, accurate, and always ready (the #1 comment on the video is “thanks, no spitting in food”). But at the same time, we’re also looking at massive job losses.

Note that these robots are only delivering the coffee to the floor and room. The coffee is still being prepared by humans. But when you only need to prepare the coffee, you don’t need to hire as many people anymore.

The employee places an order on an app. The Starbucks café prepares the order. Once ready, it’s handed over to the many waiting Rookie robots. These robots then take the order to the designated room or area, holding coffees in cup holders, and holding more cups than a human can.

Watch the video here:

By Abhimanyu

Unwrapping the fast-evolving AI popular culture.