After the successful test run of the Maid Robot Café in Akihabara, the creator looks to the future

For three days between October 7th and 9th, on a quiet side street in Akihabara, Tokyo, the rental cafe Cafe Triumph was the setting for a world-first event, a temporary maid cafe like no other. In an area where maid cafes are almost everywhere, pop-up maid cafes are not uncommon.

Photo: Reproduced with permission from A_say (@A_says_)

However, this one was different in one important respect: the maids were robots.

MasiroCafe_3.jpg

Photo: Reproduced with permission from A_say (@A_says_)

This wasn’t just a gimmick. Visitors were greeted, shown to their seats, attended to and served by a maid robot called MaSiRo, which operated independently without human control of their movements.

As some of our readers may remember, in 2019 we first introduced the MaSiRo project, which stands for Maid Apprentice Substantializing Ideal Robot. MaSiRo (pronounced “mashiro”) is also the name of the project’s first maid robot.

Originally featured at events as a “beautiful robot girl to hold hands with,” MaSiRo has since emerged as part of her creator A_say’s master plan (@Asays). Ultimately, as he explained in our April 2022 interview, A_say dreams of “anime-like beings manifesting in reality as if they were alive”. With his expertise in robotics, he is on the way to making his dream come true.

The first step in achieving this goal is a coffee shop staffed entirely by robot maids who have unique and individual personalities. With the support of the INNO-vation program sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Interior and Communications, A_say was able to carry out a proof-of-concept of such a café with MaSiRo. Her twin sisters, CiRo (pronounced “chiro”) and CiYa (pronounced “chiya”), who A_say created thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that hit over 300% of its goal, were also present and responsive to customers, but left their official duties too her older sister.

MasiroCafe_1.jpg

Photo: Reproduced with permission from A_say (@A_says_)

After the customer filled out a card with their order, they rang a bell that sent a signal. MaSiRo, who had meticulously learned the floor plan of the café, approached the customer, who then pressed the card into her hand so that she could give it to the kitchen staff. When the order was ready, the kitchen staff put the tray on her arm and MaSiRo served it.

This is where MaSiRo serves coffee:

MasiroCafe_2.jpg

Photo: Reproduced with permission from A_say (@A_says_)

You can see exactly what happened in this video:

You can also get a good impression from this promotional video, which shows a customer visit to the MaSiRo Cafe.

In response to the first video, which was viewed over 100,000 times, fans of the MaSiRo project from around the world left numerous comments praising the project and supporting A_say’s efforts, such as:

“It is amazing. I am impressed by the skill it took to take the project this far and get it to the point where it can be shown to the public.” [Japanese]

“Wow, we’re just one step away from bringing an anime world to life with (robot girls like) Chi or Multi!” [Japanese]

“How beautiful! (multiple heart emojis) I need one of these lol” [Spanish]

“You are absolutely gorgeous and must be protected at all times!!

“The fact that MaSiRo keeps looking away from you and to the side is adorable, it’s like she’s too embarrassed to make eye contact.”

“The future for the MaSiRo project looks promising!”

Statement from MaSiRo Project Creator A_say

“We recently caught up with A_say and asked him how he felt about the trial run at Cafe Triomphe.

The creator of the robot girl expressed his gratitude and thoughts on the test run, as well as his hopes for the future of the MaSiRo project:

I am grateful that someone recommended me for the INNO-vation program sponsored by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan and that I was lucky enough to be selected. This allowed me to dedicate a whole year to the Maid Robot Cafe prototype.

Though we encountered many difficulties along the way, MaSiRo, which was merely a “hand-held robot”, was able to perform duties as a maid robot, which was a great leap forward.

So I’m proud to say that the outcome of our year-long challenge was a huge success!

However, this is not my ultimate goal.

Four years have passed since the start of the project. MaSiRo has finally made it to the start as a chambermaid robot. In the future, she will evolve, getting smarter and cuter as I strive to make the maid robot cafe of my dreams come true.

More than 100 people came to see MaSiRo this time, so it really struck me that a lot of people really love them.

This is just the first step towards realizing my dreams. My ultimate goal is to ensure that MaSiRo and her friends will continue to be loved and needed in the future.

Hopefully, when I’m gone, MaSiRo and her friends aren’t just robots or just gadgets in a coffee shop. They are recognized as characters who actually live there. I will continue the development in the MaSiRo project to realize such a world.”

If you want to follow the latest developments of the MaSiRo project, you can follow A_say on Twitter or check his project page for updates.

Read more stories from Grape Japan.

— The Japanese artist’s wool felt pets are so lifelike they’re ready to pounce

— The Japanese confectionery master fulfills his childhood dream of a super-sized shortcake

— The adorable bunny, Daruma, jumps into the new year

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