RoboCafe in Dubai eases minds of Covid-wary customers

A café run by robots has opened to customers in one of Dubai’s most popular tourist destinations – ideal in a time where social distancing is still prevalent.

It is located in Dubai Festival City, a large residential, business, and entertainment development. Customers can place their orders with German-made robots, who then prepare and deliver the drinks straight to their tables.

“It’s a good idea, especially right now,” said Emirati customer Jamal Ali Hassan, whose piping hot beverage was delivered with no spills. “Restaurant turnouts are low, so I would expect that this idea would be popular… You order online and the robot works in front of you and gets you whatever you want within minutes.”

A customer takes his drink which was prepared by a robot at a cafe in Dubai

RoboCafe has been in the works for more than two years, but its launch was delayed from March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It finally opened last June, when restrictions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were relaxed.

The RoboCafe was created with support from Dubai’s government artificial intelligence initiative. Humans are only called upon when there are glitches, or to sanitise surfaces.

A robot prepares a drink at a cafe in Dubai Festival City, United Arab Emirates

A robot prepares a drink at RoboCafe in Dubai Festival City

“The client orders from the screen here, then everything is reliant on artificial intelligence; [the robot] sorts out the orders by table and places it on the small service bot, and the service bot delivers it to the customer,” said Rashid Essa Lootah, executive director of RoboCafe.

German-made robots make the drinks, while the fully autonomous delivery bots are designed and made in the UAE.