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  • Lawrence Ng

Robot Baristas Serving 200 Cups of Coffee Hourly Will Roll Out in Singaporean MRT Stations

You read that right: A robot barista named ELLA will be able to serve up to 200 cups of gourmet coffee hourly to on-the-go commuters. Food and beverage tech start-up Crown Digital and retail management company Stellar Lifestyle are partnering up to bring ELLA to around 30 MRT Stations in Singapore by the end of 2022.

Credit: Crown Digital

Taking up less than five square metres, ELLA will facilitate a safe, cashless and contactless transaction. For commuters who want to grab their morning pick-me-up promptly, they can order beverages ahead of time with the Crown Digital app and collect their drinks as soon as they arrive at the MRT station.

Credit: Crown Digital

ELLA was developed by Crown Digital — the technology arm of Crown Group — with the ability to brew and serve coffee. The robot barista first appeared in Crown Coffee’s sole location at CT Hub 2 in October 2020. Crown Coffee — Crown Group’s food and beverage division — rolled out the automated barista to lessen human interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Today, the pandemic has revealed and accelerated even more systemic challenges that have long plagued the food and beverage sector — from high rents to thin margins — and new ones arising from health and safety concerns. 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," said Crown Group Chief Executive Officer Keith Tan.

In cooperation with Stellar Lifestyle, Crown Digital introduced improvements to ELLA. These include internal security features like an AI-run vision system allowing for 'live' video analytics monitoring and solenoid Internet of things (IoT) locks on all access panels for tampering prevention. On the other hand, ELLA’s AI-powered computer vision system will be used to identify mistakes such as spills. The machine also has a digitalised backend administration and maintenance module set up to instantaneously communicate incidents to a Central Command Centre.


Written by Sophia Lopez


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