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Old and new worlds collide with robot-brewed TCM coffee

By Ma Si | | Updated: 2020-09-28 13:53
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A robot developed by Orion Star makes a cup of coffee mixed with traditional Chinese medicines. [Photo provided to]

Would you be willing to try a special cup of coffee — wait for it — brewed by a robot and mixed with traditional Chinese herbs? If so, that is exactly what a partnership between Chinese tech company Cheetah Mobile and Tongrentang Group, a renowned traditional Chinese medicine pharmacy, was created for.

Beijing Orion Star Technology Co, a service robot company backed by Cheetah Mobile, has inked an agreement with a healthcare service brand of Tongrentang to inject new vitality into the coffee sector.

The two companies said they will work together to explore opportunities in coffee retailing, coffee robots powered by artificial intelligence technologies and other areas.

At a launch event, Orion Star unveiled a humanoid robotic barista it claimed simulates master-level brewing techniques.

Li Ting, vice-president at Orion Star, said: "Our AI-driven Robotic Coffee Master can free human baristas and nutritionists from repetitive labor. While ensuring quality consistency with every drink, it allows the baristas and nutritionists to focus on educating the customers on health and well-being, and creating new drinks."

According to the company, its continuous input into research and development has helped significantly lower the cost of a robotic arm, which can help popularize its use in more consumer-oriented scenarios.

The Robotic Coffee Master has already been deployed in coffee stores owned by Tongrentang.

As of July 2020, Orion Star said it had deployed more than 11,000 service robots, which have served over 200 million people and completed more than 6 million voice interactions daily. The companies said their robots have been adopted by more than 1,800 organizations and used in over 20 scenarios, including epidemic prevention and control, smart retail and smart public transportation.

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