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What a scoop: robots serve customers at Melbourne’s new ice cream bar

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What a scoop: robots serve customers at Melbourne’s new ice cream bar article image

An Australian start-up has opened an ice cream store in Melbourne where robots take the orders and serve single scoops.

Located in Federation Square, the Niska ice cream bar features three robot attendants— named Eka, Pepper and Tony — to serve its range of gourmet and artisan ice-cream.

The robots provide “meaningful interactions from the moment a customer steps into the store,” says Niska.

Pepper is the humanoid robot created by Japan’s SoftBank Robotics to interact with guests at airports, hotels, hospitals, aged care centres and retail outlets. It can answer questions and have simple conversations.

His “workmate” Tony was developed by ABB. It has two arms and a digital screen acting as a face.

Tony is part of ABB’s YuMI range of robots, a cobot designed to work alongside humans – ideal for mundane and repetitive tasks.

Eka is a robot arm from Kuka with seven axes of movement that scoops the ice cream, while Tony pours chocolate on top of the scoop.

Customers have a choice of 16 flavours including rocky road, cookies and cream, hazelnut, rainbow and salted caramel.

“We can’t wait for everyone to experience Niska and meet our robot team,” said Anton Morus, Director of Niska.

It’s the ideal place to take the kids during school holidays, he says.

“They can experience world class robotics and enjoy delectable ice-cream in a safe, exciting, interactive and fun environment.

“It is set to become a must-do experience for anyone living in or visiting Melbourne.”

Visitors can take selfies with Pepper and also photographic his workmates scooping ice cream.

VIC Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade, Martin Pakula says the novel ice cream bar is a “real feather in the cap for Victorian innovation.”

“There is amazing work going on here in areas like robotics and artificial intelligence – and the ice-cream’s also pretty good,” he said.

Melbourne’s startup scene is supported by the Victorian Government’s startup agency, LaunchVic.

Kate Orlova, Niska CEO and co-founder, says ice-cream is “just the beginning” for this robotics startup.

“We’re looking to expand the robotics into other areas of retail. The future is here and it is exciting! We look forward to changing the retail game and pioneering retail robotics.”

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