In Tokyo, Japan there is a cafe that employs people with spinal cord injuries and people with the debilitating ALS disease. These people, confined to a hospital bed, work as servers in the cafe by using remotely controlled robots.
I think this is a brilliant use of robotic technology. I’ve been looking a bit into using telepresence robots in schools and nursing homes.
Our English professor, Kaleen Knopp had a surgery that kept her home-bound for some time was able to continue working remotely by operating our telepresence robot. Our robot only provides a virtual presence, it does not have any arms with which to interact with the remote environment. So she needed an on-the-ground assistant in the classroom to help with things happening in class, but with this support, she was able to teach her class without missing a day.
I think having a robot with remotely controlled arms is the logical next step in this sort of technology and I think it is astounding that this sort of technology enables those who could not otherwise interact easily with the outside world to not simply be present to others, but actually have productive employment by serving others in a restaurant. How absolutely wonderful for those people who are doing the serving and who are being served. This is an internet-of-things device that truly makes the world a better place!