Mr. Sato puts the culinary skills of Lawson’s Karaage-kun Robo to a taste test.
In just the past few days, there have been two extremely exciting pieces of news from the world of Japanese robotics. One is that there’s a full-sized moving Gundam statue coming to Yokohama, and the other, which is no less important, is that Japanese engineers have designed a fried-chicken cooking robot.
While the Gundam won’t be installed until 2020, the fried chicken robot is fully operational, and we sent our ace reporter Mr. Sato out to try it for himself, and also to create a user’s manual so that you can too.
The robotic employee works at the TOC Osaki branch on convenience store chain Lawson, not far from Tokyo’s Osaki Station. Called the Karaage-kun Robo (since it cooks Karaage-kun, Lawson’s brand of bite-sized Japanese-style fried chicken), its mission is immediately apparent, thanks to the bright red comb-like protrusion extending from the top of the robo chef.
To use the machine, first grab an order card out of rack attached to its front. Three varieties are available: original flavor on the left, “Red” (i.e. spicy) in the middle, and Hokkaido Cheese on the right.
▼ Mr. Sato’s original flavor Karaage-kun cost him 216 yen (US$1.90)
Take your card up to the counter, where a human clerk will ring you up. We’re guessing this is because Lawson is worried that if you give your money to the robot directly, it’ll just waste it all at the pachinko parlor (which, with all its flashily decorated machines, probably feels like a tempting hostess bar to a robot).