by Kevin Coupe

We’ve had a number of stories about robotics lately, from Kroger’s deal with Ocado to build robotic warehouses, to Walmart’s use of robotic janitors to clean its stores.

I don’t blame folks for thinking that this creates potential problems for actual human labor. Visions of The Terminator dance in people’s heads, though I tend to think more about Data from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

But … sometimes reality comes along and smashes all your expectations and assumptions.

Which is what happened yesterday when I got a note from MNB reader Tom Redwine, who referred me to a story he’d seen on a site called NextShark.

It seems that in Japan, there is a company that has been testing out the use of robots in a restaurant … except that in this cafe, they’ve hired paralyzed people to control the robots from their beds and chairs, even from their homes. The controls are customized for people’s specific disabilities, and the system allows them to interact via then robots with society, not to mention earn a paycheck.

To this point, it’s just been a crowdfunded test, one that ends tomorrow. But the folks running the cafe hope to open such a business on a full-time basis in about a year.

The story is definitely an Eye-Opener. And I am gobsmacked.