Robot baristas are set to start serving fresh coffees in 30 Singapore MRT stations by the end of next year.
The baristas, built by Singapore tech startup Crown Digital, will be housed in stores built by retail property management firm Stellar Lifestyle. Located in retail spaces with a footprint of just 5sqm, Ella, as they will be dubbed, offer a cashless, contactless interface with commuters and are capable of serving up to 200 cups of coffee an hour.
Using a digital app, consumers can even order coffees in advance and pick them up when they pass through the station.
The coffee kiosks incorporate security features such as AI-powered vision system for round-the-clock ‘live’ video analytics monitoring, fully sealed chambers without gaps, and solenoid IoT locks for all access panels to prevent tampering. An AI-powered computer vision system is used to spot anomalies like spillage and foreign objects, and a digitalised backend admin and maintenance module will update the Central Command Centre in real-time should an incident take place.
“We plan to enhance commuters’ experience by enlivening and transforming Singapore’s public transport network spaces with innovative and new-to-network concepts,” said Tony Heng, president at Stellar Lifestyle, which is a shareholder in Crown Digital. “Ella is an example of the kind of lifestyle concepts we are actively looking for at MRT stations across the island.”
The Singapore program follows an agreement last December to test market Ella in railway stations operated by JR East in Japan.
Crown Digital CEO Keith Tan said the company is working to commercialise the robotic coffee solution globally, created by high-tech talent employed locally in Singapore.
“This partnership validates our larger business vision and brings high-quality coffee to Singaporeans on the go. With this strategic investment, Crown Digital has a target addressable market of 1.4 million ridership daily right here in Singapore.”