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S’pore robot barista ELLA now at Raffles Place, the first out of 30 MRT stations by end 2022

ella raffles place mrt

In August last year, Singapore startup Crown Digital announced that it has partnered with Stellar Lifestyle, the commercial arm of SMRT Corporation Limited, to deploy its robot barista ELLA at 30 MRT stations across Singapore by end 2022.

This plan finally came to fruition today (March 2) as it celebrated the launch of a new contactless retail kiosk called Bytes Station at the basement of Raffles Place MRT station.

At Bytes Station, customers can order gourmet coffee prepared by a robot barista and an array of quick healthy bites with just a few taps on their mobile phone, catering to the working and fitness crowd.

bytes station robot barista ella
Image Credit: Crown Digital

Spanning 36 square metres, the outlet is very compact. It features a modest dining area that can seat 10 persons, flanked by ELLA the robot barista and a sandwich and smoothie kiosk. There’s also a self-ordering terminal and digital lockers for self-collection.

bytes station robot barista ella
Image Credit: Crown Digital

Its food menu offers protein-rich options made using products from nutrition partners SportyFood and Myprotein, such as Pesto Chick Ciabatta, Roasted Ribeye Sourdough and Avo-Caprese Croissant. Nutritional data of each menu item will be clearly displayed on the ELLA mobile app.

Busy commuters on the go can place their coffee, sandwich or smoothie orders and make payment directly from the app or at the self-ordering terminal, with an added perk of 10 per cent discount with payment made using credits stored in their digital ELLA wallet.

Once their orders are ready, they will be notified via the mobile app and they can scan their assigned QR code to collect their coffee and food orders from the kiosk’s pigeonhole and digital locker respectively.

The app also offers members access to third-party offers from lifestyle partners such as neighbouring gyms and sports nutrition brands.

When coffee meets tech

Despite its limited dining-in capacity, Crown Digital is confident that the kiosk can accommodate to high demand as ELLA can produce up to 200 cups of coffee an hour.

The latest version of ELLA incorporates Corning Gorilla Glass technology alongside an AI-powered vision system with live video analytics monitoring that keeps an eye on operations round-the-clock to sport abnormalities such as spillage and foreign objects, wile deep learning and predictive analytics keeps the supply chain running for its replenishment needs.

ELLA’s IoT-connected software — which powers its mobile app, payment gateway and e-wallet — will be used to operate all of Bytes Station’s customer-facing functions.

bytes station robot barista ella
Image Credit: Crown Digital

This allows the kiosk to run on a lean staffing strength — especially at a time when Singapore’s F&B industry is facing a manpower crunch — as well as allows customers the ease and mobility to place orders and make payments directly on their phones.

This MRT debut tracks a promising trajectory for Crown Digital, which inked a partnership with East Japan Railway Company (JR East) last December to deploy the first two ELLA robots at Tokyo and Yokohama stations.

“ELLA’s affinity with train stations in Japan — and now Singapore — is no coincidence. It demonstrates her ability to bring high-quality coffee into high-density areas through a grab-and-go experience that is contactless, consistent and convenient,” said Keith Tan, CEO of Crown Digital.

“Being a Singapore startup, we’re committed to making full use of every opportunity presented in this partnership with Stellar Lifestyle to bring a new wave of smart grab-and-go concepts centred around ELLA’s technology that can cater to the different lifestyle needs of the 1.4 million daily commuters, right here in Singapore. In that sense, Bytes Station is just the first blueprint that will set the framework for the transformation to come.”

He added that the upcoming deployments across Singapore’s train network will not only help enhance traditional customer retail experiences, but also lay the foundation and roadmap for embracing smart retail solutions by the larger F&B and retail sector.

Bytes Station at Raffles Place MRT station is open to the public every weekday from 7am to 8pm. New ELLA app users enjoy 50 per cent off their first Bytes Station order.

Featured Image Credit: Crown Digital

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