Smart cafe Crown Coffee has launched Singapore’s first fully autonomous robotic barista, called Ella.
According to the company, Ella is the first commercial standalone model designed for unmanned and contactless retail operations launched in the public domain. Ella is based next to the brand’s CT Hub 2 home.
The launch of Ella was joined by Minister of State in the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry, Low Yen Ling.
“Ella was born from a very real problem and necessity when we first started Crown Coffee in 2017,” said Keith Tan, CEO of Crown Group. “Shortage of labour and inconsistencies in quality led to sub-par experiences that didn’t have the potential to scale. We created the first prototype with the intention to solve those problems.”
Customers of the cafe can place orders and pay via the Crown Coffee app. While Ella is preparing their coffee, an interactive transparent OLED screen will entertain customers with quick games or advertising. Ella’s operation is monitored 24/7 by computer vision powered by AI.
“My team and I hunkered down during the circuit breaker to re-examine Ella’s role in this brave new world, and how she could navigate all that, while still trying to achieve what we set out to do from day one – to put a great cup of coffee in every hand,” Keith added.
Ella is developed by Crown Digital, a smart retail solution provider arm of Crown Coffee. The first version of Ella was designed in 2018 and displayed at the Hofex 2019 trade show.
Ella debuts on time to serve customers during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. While the Ella X version serves in high density locations, its “baby” Ella XR is designed for areas with a smaller footfall.